Innovation

Subaru CEO Says Electric Vehicle Demand Is Lagging

Subaru's electric vehicle sales are not going well.

Americans don't seem to be showing much interest in electric vehicles, according to Subaru CEO Tomomi Nakamura, cited by The Wall Street Journal.

Nakamura expressed frustration at the apparent schism between the environmental regulations Subaru is expected to uphold and the demands of customers. Both seem to be at odds, he said at a briefing on Monday (Jan. 20).

He noted that American consumers — which make up roughly two-thirds of Subaru's global sales — don't seem to have any interest in plug-in hybrids, either. That was evident in 2018, when the company tried to introduce a plug-in hybrid version of its Crosstrek. The model only sold about 300 units each month. Due to this, Nakamura said the U.S. market has been tough to crack in the area of green vehicular innovations.

The complications come as California is setting increased standards for expanded sales of electric vehicles, and as the Trump administration intends to start requiring annual fuel-efficiency increases — albeit at less stringent levels, compared to what the Obama administration intended.

Nakamura told reporters that the only electric vehicle selling well was Elon Musk's Tesla, which delivered hundreds of thousands of vehicles last year. Otherwise, it was tough going.

He said he didn't believe the U.S. was ready for tighter standards on electric vehicles, given the low interest in the brand thus far. However, he still thought a shift toward electric vehicles was inevitable, so he didn't want to give up entirely.

Nakamura said that Subaru was working with parent company Toyota on new hybrid technologies, which would be released later this decade. It is also working on an electric sports vehicle with Toyota, planned to be available by 2025.

Subaru said it wants to make electric vehicles about 40 percent of its global sales by 2030. That isn't as steep a hill to climb as some other manufacturers like Honda, which said it wanted to have two-thirds of its output be electric vehicles by the end of the decade.

Subaru's CTO Tetsuo Onuki said it was unlikely that electric vehicles would take over so thoroughly, as they would be quite expensive.

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