TOKYO — Toyota and Subaru announced they will jointly develop a battery-electric crossover on a platform developed for multiple production vehicles. The first crossover built on the platform will be a C-segment vehicle, which will be a small vehicle similar in size to a Toyota RAV4 or Subaru Forester. It will also be sold by both brands with altered styling and badging.
The small crossover will only be the first vehicle to use the platform, though, as it's being developed for use in medium-small C-segment sedans and both D-segment larger sedans and crossovers. So we could see electric cars similar to the Corolla and Impreza, Camry and Legacy, and even the Highlander and Ascent on this platform in the future.
Not surprisingly, this first electric crossover will have all-wheel drive, and the companies said that Subaru would provide all-wheel drive expertise with Toyota adding its electric powertrain knowledge. It's a safe bet that all of the future Subarus on the platform will have all-wheel drive, but it will be interesting to see if Toyota offers two-wheel- and all-wheel-drive iterations of its vehicles.
The move to share technology underlines the conundrum facing Toyota and other global automakers, which are competing to develop new vehicle technologies including all-battery electric cars and self-driving cars, which require massive investment.
"Subaru and Toyota believe that it is necessary to pursue a business model that goes beyond convention, crossing over industrial boundaries," the automakers said.
Toyota is looking to partnerships with rival automakers and tech firms to reduce its capital outlay for developing these new technologies. In April, it announced it would supply other automakers with its hybrid technology, an area it has led since it pioneered the Prius in 1997. It also recently released the 2020 Toyota Supra, which shares a majority of its powertrain and chassis, among other things, with the 2020 BMW Z4. Toyota also provided hybrid development assistance to Subaru on the Crosstrek plug-in hybrid.
Subaru, although experiencing massive, continual sales success, particularly in crossover and all-wheel-drive obsessed America, is still a small car company in the grand scheme of things. As such it's struggling to independently invest in and develop lower-emission vehicles and on-demand transportation services widely seen as necessary to survive technological upheaval in the global auto industry.
Reporting by Reuters and Autoblog's Joel Stocksdale