TOKYO – Subaru Corp aims to build a dedicated electric vehicle (EV) plant in Japan by the end of the 2020s, it said Thursday, as part of a $ 1.9 billion ramp-up to respond to growing demand for battery cars in its major North American market.
Subaru has a strong presence in the U.S. for a long time and warned on Thursday that its U.S. dealers have record low stocks of about 5,000 vehicles left, reflecting the pressure of the supply-chain crisis.
It plans to launch a mixed-production line of gasoline and electric vehicles by 2025, before opening an EV-only production line at the new plant after 2027, it said. The move will be the first for Subaru. Other Japanese carmakers have not yet officially announced plans to build a dedicated EV plant.
Japanese automakers are accelerating their EV production in an effort to recover lost ground from Tesla Inc., now the leader in the fastest growing segment of the auto industry.
Subaru CEO Tomomi Nakamura said, “The Ivy market has changed very rapidly over the last year.”
It plans to invest 250 billion yen ($ 1.93 billion) over the next five years to strengthen electrification.
Vehicles manufactured at the new plant will be exported abroad, Nakamura said, declining to disclose specifically about production capacity and whether it will make Toyota Motor Corporation cars.
The announcement came on the same day that Subaru began accepting orders for its first mass-produced EV, the Soltaire, developed jointly with Toyota in Japan. Subaru, however, has outsourced car production to Toyota, which also launched its first battery-powered electric car, the bZ4X.
Separately, Subaru reported a 12% decline in full-year operating profit to 90.45 billion yen ($ 701 million). For the current fiscal year, which began in April, it forecast operating profit of 200 billion yen, more than double the year just ended.
($ 1 = 129.0300 yen)
(Reporting by Satoshi Sugiyama; Editing by David Dolan and Edmund Clayman)