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Today, Subaru unveiled the first Subaru EV: the Solterra. The crossover SUV is a bit taller than the Outback and a bit longer than the Forester. In addition, the automaker will offer an AWD version or a long-range front-engine version. Subaru fans loved the looks of the long-awaited car, but some automotive enthusiasts noticed something strange: The 2023 Subaru Solterra is a rebadged Toyota bZ4X.

FWD Subaru SolterraAWD Subaru Solterra
DrivetrainSingle motor: front axle onlyDual motor: front axle and rear axle
Battery71.4 kWh Lithium-ion battery71.4 kWh Lithium-ion battery
Weight4,250 pounds4,450 pounds
Range330 miles285 miles
OptionsSunroofSunroof, 20-inch rims

Is the 2023 Subaru Solterra a rebadged Toyota bZ4X?

This 2022 Toyota bZ4X is nearly identical to the 2023 Subaru Solterra | Toyota
2022 Toyota bZ4X | Toyota

Subaru admits that it developed the 2023 Solterra in collaboration with Toyota. According to Subaru, the two Japanese automakers “jointly-developed” the electric SUV. Furthermore, Subaru revealed the financial and engineering partnership goes back to September 2019.

Subaru paints a distinct picture of this partnership. Firstly, it claims the slogan, “Let’s make ever-better cars together” drove the project. Secondly, the automaker says that engineers from both companies engaged in “friendly rivalry.” The automaker says the project had two results for Subaru. Firstly, the 2023 Subaru Solterra. Secondly, an e-SUBARU Global Platform for future cars.

Subaru points out that the “hexagon grille” is familiar to fans of its brand. Yet the company does not address other aspects of the car. Every other specification, aspect, and line of the 2023 Subaru Solterra is identical to the Toyota bZ4X.

Is the Toyota bZ4X a rebadged Subaru Solterra

This Subaru EV is the 2023 Subaru Solterra. It will be larger than the Outback and Forester. | Subaru
2023 Subaru Solterra EV | Subaru Youtube Channel

Toyota unveiled its bZ4X concept car in April of 2021. The automaker says the bZ in the name stands for “beyond zero.” Furthermore, Toyota is consolidating its chassis into a single “Toyota new global architecture” (TNGA). Therefore, it has announced an e-TNGA chassis for EVs. The first example of this is the compact crossover SUV, the Toyota bZ4X.

The world’s largest auto manufacturer is not shy about its financials. It admits Toyota owns 20% of Subaru. Toyota has also reported it will build the bZ4Xs at its Japanese factory. It announced plans to badge some bZ4Xs as 2023 Subaru Solterras. The manufacturing giant did admit that Subaru engineers had “input” on the bZ4X/Solterra AWD system. But what if there’s more to the story?

Subaru builds a legendary SUV. It offered one of the first affordable AWD drivetrains and won over countless fans. Toyota is the world’s leading automobile manufacturer. Therefore, it pours money into RAV4 development. But try as Toyota might, the Subaru still has a loyal fan base. Maybe Toyota’s engineers truly wanted Subaru’s input into building a crossover EV that would succeed. Is the Toyota bZ4X a rebadged Subaru Solterra? Well, when it comes to AWD, the Toyota marketing team would like you to think so.

What is the future of Subaru EVs and the Subaru company?

The 2023 Subaru Solterra will be the first Subaru EV. | Subaru
2023 Subaru Solterra EV | Subaru Youtube Channel

The shift from internal combustion to electric vehicles will strain small manufacturers’ resources. For example, Toyota has the engineering and financial resources to develop an all-new electric drivetrain. On the other hand, Subaru would struggle to fund such a project.

Developing autonomous vehicles may be even more expensive. As a result, the coming decades will put a significant strain on smaller manufacturers. Many automobile companies such as Subaru have larger investor companies. They will probably rely on their investors for future research and development. But they may lose a stake in their corporation by doing so.

Toyota and Subaru’s launch of the bZ4X may be a preview of Subaru’s next chapter. The two automakers designed one vehicle and badged it as two. But they aren’t positioning one option as luxury-oriented or performance-oriented. Instead, the companies seem to be positioning the 2023 Subaru Solterra as environmentally-oriented. 

The compact SUV’s name comes from the Latin words for the sun (sol) and earth (terra). Its marketing materials depict the Subaru EV out in the wild. In addition, rooftop solar panels will be available on the Toyota and Subaru. But Subaru marketing is making a bigger deal of the option. Will Subaru become Toyota’s environmentally-friendly upsell? Only time will tell.


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