Toyota Motor Corp. and Subaru Corp. will partner to build a battery-electric SUV, the companies said Thursday.
Each automaker will contribute components for which it is well-known. The deal calls for Toyota to provide electric technology and for Subaru to supply its all-wheel-drive expertise. But each company will produce its own version of the vehicle.
Their plan starts with the design of a new platform for an upcoming SUV. The platform also will underpin electric compact and midsize sedans. The SUV will slot into the small crossover segment. A larger midsize crossover will take shape as well.
The effort addresses several challenges associated with electric vehicles, Toyota and Subaru said. Automakers that enter the electric vehicle market must be nimble and rethink traditional sales methods in order to reach new customers. And they also must deal with shifting demands on battery supply from automakers and other users.
A dedicated platform for a wide range of electric vehicles will reduce manufacturing cost and complexity, two components critical to modern automakers.
This is not the first time Toyota and Subaru have worked together to develop new vehicles. The companies jointly developed the sports coupe sold as the Toyota 86 and the Subaru BRZ. They also collaborated on the Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid plug-in crossover, for which Toyota provided the hybrid technology.
Subaru will shift its ongoing electric development efforts into the new joint project.
Luxury automakers are diving into the electric crossover market. Jaguar Land Rover has the iPace, and Audi sells the e-Tron. Mercedes-Benz will offer the EQC next year, and BMW plans its iNext for 2021.
But the mainstream auto brands are more hesitant. Both Toyota and Subaru previously bet big on hybrid vehicles, such as the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid and Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid, that are primarily powered by gasoline engines.
Though Toyota showed a battery-electric version of its C-HR crossover at the Shanghai auto show in April, it does not sell an all-electric vehicle in the U.S.
The agreement between Toyota and Subaru signals the automakers are ready to commit to battery-electric vehicles. However, the companies did not specify a timeline for production.