Subaru’s European BEV Poses a Brand Dilemma

Subaru has announced its plans to launch a full BEV for the European market that could sound the death knell for the brand’s individuality.

That’s because Subaru has for decades built a small but fiercely loyal band of loyal customers wedded to its ‘boxer’ flat-four cylinder engines both in the wildly flexible and popular gasoline version and the somewhat less impressive but very practical diesel option. The gasoline grew to became the 320bhp turbo-charged 2-liter WRX STI rally race beast that many owners could tune to over 400bhp.

Both engines offered a unique feel and power delivery to the models that employed them while, thanks to the flat-opposed piston configuration, the cars’ center of gravity could be kept low improving the handling even of SUVs such as the Forester. Now, however, the automaker will enter the faceless, characterless, world of the BEV and also employing a platform shared with Toyota.

This platform for a mid-sized SUV will probably be based on Toyota’s C-HR which while being used with a hybrid powertrain in most markets, employs is a full BEV in China. Subaru will only confirm that the car is scheduled for introduction in the first half of this decade and that it will be a mid-size SUV, similar in size to its Forester model. Additional information will be shared sometime next year.

How the brand hopes to appeal to its existing customer base is not easy to see and one can only hope it finds a way to stand out in a homogeneous electric future.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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