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Subaru’s first electric car is sun-inspired – but will it be solar-powered?

Subaru Solterra
(Image credit: Subaru)

Subaru has teased the first images of its inaugural electric car effort, the Subaru Solterra EV – and it’s given more than a few hints that it could utilize some form of solar power.

There aren't many details to go on just yet, but Subaru has confirmed the Solterra will be powered – primarily, at least – by the electric battery platform the company has been co-developing with fellow Japanese automaker, Toyota.

That doesn’t mean the car definitely won’t have any form of solar power, though, and given the origins of its name and the seemingly deliberate positioning of Subaru’s official teaser shots, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the the Solterra arrive with some sort of solar charging system, or maybe even solar roof panels. 

The car’s name, Solterra, combines the words “sol” and “terra” – the Latin words for “sun” and “earth”, respectively. Now, while that usually wouldn’t be enough to have us speculating that solar energy might be involved in the car’s design, the Solterra is sharing an electric platform with another car that most definitely is getting a little help from the sun. 

Subaru Solterra

(Image credit: Subaru)

Toyota’s upcoming bZ4X EV is being built on the same e-TNGA platform (or e-Subaru, to Subaru) as the Solterra, and has been confirmed to utilise a fully-fledged "on-board solar charging system", which Toyota says will be able to extend the car’s range. 

Of course, there’s no guarantee that the Solterra will feature this same solar tech, but since the bZ4X is set to benefit from this additional charging system alongside a more conventional battery powertrain, it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that Subaru’s debut EV will benefit from a similar feature.

Solar-powered roof panels, too, might also be on the cards, especially given the recent announcements of the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Genesis G80 EV. On the former, it’s claimed these panels will add “up to 2,000km” (around 5-6km per day) of additional range per year – so they’d certainly be a welcome addition to the Solterra. 

All about the angles

Still, with Subaru tight-lipped on the Solterra’s specs, design and price, we’re left to speculate on a set of teaser images the company has announced as a precursor to the car’s official launch – expected to come later in the year, ahead of a 2022 on-the-road release.

In both photos, the Solterra seems deliberately positioned in shot of the (noticeably bright) sun. While this is likely a nod to the car’s name, it’s nonetheless exciting to think this might be a double entendre hinting at some sort of solar-related reveal to come at a later date.

As for the only other official details we know, then, Subaru says the Solterra will arrive as “a truly capable and durable SUV” delivered in an “environmentally responsible package.”

And what could be more environmentally responsible than the sun? 

Axel Metz

Axel is a London-based Staff Writer at TechRadar, reporting on everything from Elon Musk to robot butlers as part of the site's daily news output. He also has a degree in English Literature, meaning he can occasionally be spotted slipping Hemingway quotes into stories about electric sports cars.