If the Nikkei’s sources are right, Subaru and Toyota are jointly developing a hybrid SUV that will be sold under both brands in the 2017 time-frame. According to the report, Subaru wants to stick with its trademark boxer engine, but hopes to improve its fuel efficiency by mating it with Toyota’s hybrid technology.
This year, Subaru announced its 2014 Crosstrek XV Hybrid. The Crosstrek crossover is a sales success, powering a lot of Subaru’s recent growth in the U.S. and elsewhere. Its proprietary hybrid system however underwhelmed. The hybrid is rated at 28 mpg city, 34 highway and 31 combined, only a marginal improvement over the 25/33/28 gasoline model with automatic transmission. Using Toyota’s system, Subaru plans to catch up with the competition.
Toyota holds a 16.5 percent stake in Fuji Heavy, owner of Subaru. The two share plants and platforms, notably the hachi-roku Toyota 86 that is also sold as the Subaru BRZ. As part of their arrangement, Subaru’s mini vehicle production was taken over by Toyota’s Daihatsu, which allows Subaru to focus on lucrative niche products.
When asked, Toyota didn’t have more than the usual “we do not comment of future models,” so we take it, the Nikkei’s sources are on to something.