Subaru Reveals the Solterra SUV, its First Fully-Electric Vehicle Jointly Developed With Toyota
【Summary】Japanese automaker Subaru is joining the ranks of the world's carmakers introducing new fully-electric models with a brand new electric SUV named the Solterra. The battery-powered SUV is Subaru’s first electric vehicle globally. The Solterra is built on the e-SUBARU Global Platform, which was jointly developed in collaboration with Toyota Motor Corp.
Japanese automaker Subaru is joining the ranks of the world's carmakers introducing new fully-electric models with a brand new electric SUV named the Solterra. The battery-powered SUV, which was announced eariler this year, is Subaru's first electric vehicle globally and represents the future of the brand as the auto industry moves toward electrification.
The name "Solterra" combines the Latin words for "sun" and "earth."
The Solterra is built on the e-SUBARU Global Platform, a new dedicated EV platform that will underpin future models from Subaru. The automaker says the EV platform offers higher strength and rigidity than Subaru's all-wheel-drive internal combustion engine vehicles, which improves handling and stability.
The dedicated EV platform was developed in collaboration with Toyota Motor Corp. The Solterra is the second vehicle that was co-developed by the two automakers, following the Toyota BR86 and Subaru BRZ sports cars launched this year.
The Solterra was developed from the very start with equal contributions from both companies. The two automakers referred to the project with the motto "Let's engage in friendly rivalry." The result is a highly advanced electric SUV that combines the strengths of both companies.
The Solterra is equipped with a large-capacity battery that accepts DC fast charging for rapid recharging.
Subaru did not disclose the size of the battery pack, but the company says the internal structure has been improved to maintain sufficient battery capacity even after a decade of use. The battery also provides structural support, which helps protect occupants and the battery pack from damage in the event of an accident.
All of Subaru's vehicles come with all-wheel-drive, which is what attracts many loyal consumers to the brand. However, the all-wheel-drive (AWD) set up in the Solterra is much more advanced.
The Solterra uses a new AWD system with two separate motors controlling the front and rear wheel. The distribution of power is electronically controlled to maximize the grip and improve overall handling. The SUV is equipped with the X-MODE AWD control system used in SUBARU's gas-powered models, along with a feature called "Grip Control" to refine handling on rough roads.
The Solterra offers three distinct drive modes, ECO, NORMAL, and POWER. The amount of the regenerative brakes can be controlled with paddles on the steering wheel, allowing a driver to dial in their preferred balance of power output and range extending options.
Since electric vehicles are built much differently from conventional vehicles. Without an engine or conventional transmission, the cabin floor can be made flat, allowing for more space for passengers.
Despite its compact size from the outside. The Solterra can hold four golf bags or three large suitcases. Sabaru intentionally kept the height of the cargo floor low to help with loading and unloading cargo.
Sabaru has one of the most loyal customer bases in the auto industry, many Subaru drivers are extremely loyal to the brand and many have owned multiple vehicles over the years. Keeping this in mind, Sabaru kept the familiar buzzer and indicator sounds the same as those used in other Subaru vehicles to make the EV driving experience more familiar for existing Subaru customers.
Like many other EV on the market, the Solterra includes a multimedia system with a large, 12.3-inch center-mounted touch screen display It is also equipped with a wireless charging pad for smartphones. The display supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. Other features include a panoramic glass roof that brings light into the cabin and creates a feeling of spaciousness, even for the rear seat passengers.
To further boost overall range, features such as the heated steering wheel and seats that warm up more quickly using little power. The vehicle heat pump and air conditioner are also designed to be highly efficient with low power consumption to converse battery power and extend range.
Sabaru says its has given much attention to the Solterra's design, including a digital key and smartphone app that can be used to operate the windows, lock/unlock the doors, and precondition the cabin remotely. The digital key replaces a traditional keyfob.
The Solterra also comes with fully-automated parking. which can be controlled from outside the vehicle using the smartphone app. The automated parking feature controls the Solterra's steering, braking and shifting. It's the first time that Sabaru has offered an automated parking feature in its vehicles.
With its compact size and environmentally friendly electric powertrain, the Solterra will likely appeal to existing Subaru customers as well as those shopping for a fully-electric SUV or crossover.
Subaru plans to launch the Solterra globally in mid-2022. The EV will be sold in Japan, North America, Europe and China. Pricing, range and other specifications will be shared at a later date.
The new Solterra will be on display at the Los Angeles Auto Show later this month.
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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