Japanese carmakers Toyota and Subaru have announced they will team up to develop an electric drivetrain platform for pure battery electric vehicles (BEV), starting with a C-Class SUV that each carmaker will sell with their own badges.
It’s yet another partnering of might as legacy carmakers around the world take stock of the obvious: electric cars are happening, and are not going to go away – and it will be more cost effective to make then together.
Toyota has long been a proponent of fuel-efficient hybrid cars, with its Prius a mainstay on the market for over 20 years now, the hybrid Corolla and Camry a much-loved choice for taxi drivers and the hybrid RAV4 introduced just last month stunning Toyota’s local office by outstripping petrol sales two to one.
But the company has to date not produced one plug-in hybrid, that can truly drive without any tailpipe emissions (at least for a short distance), and instead has been spouting marketing spin on its hybrid range, referring to them as “self-charging hybrids”.
Subaru on the other hand has come quite late to the low emissions party, with its first plug-in hybrid, the Subaru XV PHEV, unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show only last year.
While Toyota and Subaru already have had a long-held collaborative relationship (instigated in 2005), the joint agreement to develop BEVs is a landmark moment.
It is not only one of several partnerships between auto giants to develop electric vehicles inked in recent months – Jaguar Land Rover and BMW announced a similar deal only yesterday, while Ford and VW teamed up in January with a promise to bring 16 new all-electric models to fruition.
However, it is thought that Toyota, with its significant investment in hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (and who owns 17% of Subaru), may simply try to corner the hydrogen market offerings such as the Mirai FCEV instead.
Of course, the real clincher in terms of auto partnerships will come when Mazda finally lays down the serious gauntlet of investment that it has staked in rotary engine technology, giving way to the inevitability of true zero emissions electric mobility.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.