Toyota Motor Corp. and Subaru Corp. are set to ramp up cooperation in the development of electric cars, with a plan to launch an all-electric sport utility vehicle in the Japanese market as early as 2025, sources familiar with the matter said Tuesday.
The two companies will also consider collaborating on another EV targeted for North America and other regions, the sources said.
The move is part of Toyota's efforts to strengthen its EV operations under new President Koji Sato. The Japanese auto giant has decided to tap the development and production capabilities of Subaru, in which Toyota has a stake of about 20 percent, to catch up with its rivals in the United States and Europe, the sources said.
The new vehicle for the domestic market will be based on the two EVs they had jointly developed earlier -- Toyota's bZ4X and Subaru's Solterra. It is expected to run longer than bZ4X, which can travel 559 kilometers on a single charge, and have larger luggage space.
The new model will be produced in Subaru's factory in Gunma Prefecture, northwest of Tokyo, the sources said.
Sato vowed in April to bolster its fledging EV business, aiming to launch 10 models and sell 1.5 million units annually by 2026, while adding it will continue with its strategy to offer a wide selection of green vehicles such as hybrid cars and fuel cell vehicles.
Subaru, known for its boxer engine that allows vehicles to lower the center of gravity and curb vibration, has a strong following both at home and abroad. The carmaker had difficulty developing EVs on its own due to limited resources, industry experts say.
The deepened collaboration will allow the two companies to widen their product lineups while curbing investment, the sources said.