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Subaru launches cheapest AWD electric SUV

All-wheel drive Subaru Solterra electric SUV is aimed at brand-loyal buyers

5 Mar 2024

SUBARU Australia has launched its electric Solterra, the first electric vehicle in its adventure-ready line-up, with initial customer deliveries taking place this week.


The Solterra shares the bZ4X platform with Toyota but beat the big “T” to the punch Down Under by a couple of days, offering two variants: the Solterra AWD ($69,990) and Solterra AWD Touring ($76,990).


Speaking to GoAuto during the official launch of the Solterra, Subaru Australia managing director Blair Read offered insights into the brand’s plans for its first EV model.


While attracting new buyers is a focus, Mr Read says the Solterra aims to offer brand-loyal customers an electric option that will still do everything expected of a Subaru.


“It broadens our offering for loyal Subaru owners, and Subaru has great customer loyalty, so for those thinking they might try an EV next, we have something to offer them,” he said.


“A good portion will be distinct Subaru buyers and Forester or Outback owners that want to make their step into the Solterra.


“Given this is model number seven, from a smaller model range, it does provide that potential for new people to come to the brand.”


Off the back of a record year for Subaru coinciding with its 50th anniversary in Australia, up 28 per cent with 46,114 sales, Mr Read wouldn’t offer sales projections for 2024 but did hint at hopes for a similar result.


“I think what our expectation is for this year is to see similar again, and obviously offering a new model to the range strengthens the overall offering we have as a brand - so we are confident in another good year,” he said.


A week before launching the EV, Subaru slashed the price of the entry Solterra AWD model by $8000 bringing it down to $69,990 plus ORCs, but Mr Read says it is too early to tell whether the move has led to increased pre-orders.


“It’s early days on that and with the first dealer demonstrators turning up last week it’s hard to say if it is driven by test drives or that (price reduction), but overall it's positive and I think we’re going to have a good read by the end of this week,” he said.


While Toyota’s bZ4X is cheaper in entry-level front-wheel drive guise, Subaru’s entry AWD model is $4910 cheaper than the all-wheel drive equivalent from Toyota. In fact, the Solterra is cheaper than any other all-wheel drive electric SUV available in Australia.


“Any model on the market is a competitor or an alternative offering, but what we’ve seen from the experience with BRZ and 86 is the respective brands have their very loyal buyer bases or the brands have their own attractions for consumers,” Mr Read said.


The Solterra undercuts all-wheel-drive variants of the Tesla Model Y ($78,400), Kia EV9 ($121,000) and Hyundai Ioniq 5 ($80,500), but Mr Read says the primary focus has been offering a “true Subaru”.


“We haven’t really focused too much on the rivals in terms of targeting volume and our core focus with the launch has been what does a customer, either a loyal existing customer or prospective customer, expect from a Subaru SUV,” Mr Read said.


“We’re focused on whether this is a true Subaru model to add to the range, and we firmly believe that (it is).”


The wait times for customers who order now will be three to four months, Subaru Australia has confirmed, depending on the options ticked.


“We are about three to four months ahead on pre-orders to production, so depending on spec variant, colour, those sorts of things, it’s probably three to four months at this stage,” he said.


“First dealer demos have just arrived in dealerships so we will see that start to grow, because people have been waiting to test drive the car and now we have that opportunity.


“We do have good support from the factory on being able to try and manage the lead times as best as possible.”

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