Subaru’s first electric vehicle (EV) may be late coming to Australia, but the brand’s local boss says he isn’t worried about the threat posed to it by increasingly entrenched Chinese brands.

    “For sure you have to look at the market and what competitors are doing to understand where you sit, and all we can do is to control what we can control,” Subaru Australia managing director Blair Read told CarExpert.

    “Whatever new product we decide to go with in Australia (and New Zealand), we have to make sure it remains absolutely true to the brand. You don’t blink and react just because something maybe different in market.”

    The Solterra crossover, the brand’s twin to the Toyota bZ4X, is six months late to market. The two vehicles were co-developed by Toyota and Subaru.

    There’s no doubt Subaru will find willing customers for its first battery-electric model but the brand isn’t exactly suffering due to its late arrival.

    On the contrary, it’s still having record years with its existing petrol and hybrid models in Australia.

    “The current customer demand for core models like Outback, Forester and Crosstrek is meeting the mark for our customers but you can’t rest on that, so we’ve also got a great product portfolio coming, including eight battery-electric models by 2028,” said Mr Read.

    “That’s four BEVs by 2026 including Solterra with another four BEVs to follow by 2028.”

    This upcoming line-up of EVs will include multiple SUVs and even performance cars.

    “We really focus on doing the best we can in the segments we’ve got, but what really gives us confidence going forward into H2 2023 and on into 2024, is that we’ll have a record year for Outback, a record year for Forester and record year for BRZ in terms of total annual volume,” he added.

    “And when you think of something like Forester that’s quite a way through its lifecycle, that gives us confidence that we still have a good proposition for the Subaru customer base.

    “Our role is to strengthen core Subaru, which is our SUV range and the capability that AWD delivers in that space.”

    Tesla has pushed past Subaru in sales this year (29,511 sales vs. 26,055) with a line-up consisting of just two models, both built in China.

    While it’s an American brand, there’s a rash of Chinese brands rolling out EVs in Australia including BYD, GWM, and MG.

    BYD has sold 7201 Atto 3s thus far this year, against 9272 petrol and hybrid Foresters.

    Competition has become especially cutthroat at the lower end of the EV market in Australia, where the Chinese have made significant inroads.

    Anthony Crawford
    Anthony Crawford is a Senior Road Tester at CarExpert.
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