Toyota, Subaru team up to develop electric SUV in battle against costs

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TOKYO (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp and Subaru Corp on Thursday said they plan to jointly develop a battery-electric sport-utility vehicle (SUV) on a platform produced together as they seek to split the cost of producing the lower-emissions car.

The pair will apply Subaru’s all-wheel-drive technologies and Toyota’s vehicle electrification technologies to the new SUV, which each will sell under its own brands, the automakers said in a statement.

The move to share technology underlines the conundrum facing Toyota and other global automakers, which are competing to develop new vehicle technologies including all-battery electric cars and self-driving cars, which require massive investment.

“Subaru and Toyota believe that it is necessary to pursue a business model that goes beyond convention, crossing over industrial boundaries,” the automakers said.

Toyota is looking to partnerships with rival automakers and tech firms to reduce its capital outlay for developing these new technologies. In April, it announced it would supply other automakers with its hybrid technology, an area it has led since it pioneered the Prius in 1997.

While the Japanese automaker has led in technologies for hybrid and fuel cell vehicles, it has trailed behind rivals such as Nissan Motor Co Ltd, Volkswagen AG and Tesla Inc in bringing fully electric vehicles to showrooms.

As the smallest of Japan’s major automakers, Subaru is struggling to independently invest in and develop lower-emission vehicles and on-demand transportation services widely seen as necessary to survive technological upheaval in the global auto industry.

It is also struggling with a spate of recent production- and quality-related issues, the side effects of rapid growth to keep up with booming for its Legacy sedans and Forester SUV crossovers in the United States, its biggest market.

Thursday’s announcement builds on a partnership between Toyota and Subaru which goes back to 2005. Toyota is the largest shareholder in Subaru with a stake of 16.77%, showed Refinitiv data.

Reporting by Chris Gallagher and Naomi Tajitsu; Editing by Uttaresh.V and Christopher Cushing