Subaru has an intensely loyal following, but it doesn’t roll out anywhere near the amount of new vehicles as its Japanese rivals. The shift to electric vehicles brings a whole new set of challenges, all of which automakers without the benefit of unlimited funding will need to navigate. To “avoid the age of electrification,” as its incoming CEO put it, Subaru is changing its executive bench and focusing efforts on using its small size as a competitive advantage.
The automaker announced Atsushi Osaki as CEO and said Tom Doll, CEO of Subaru America, would step down. Jeff Walters, the company’s current senior vice president of sales, will take over as president and COO. The automaker’s moves signal a renewed focus on EV development and the US, its most successful market.
Interestingly, the management reshuffle is similar to that announced by Subaru’s partner Toyota earlier this year. Outgoing Subaru CEO Tomomi Nakamura shared a similar view on EVs with Toyota’s outgoing CEO, Akio Toyoda. Osaki struck a different tone in his first remarks, saying that Subaru is looking forward to determining the best ways to respond and adapt to the changes the market will bring.
Speaking at a press conference last week, Osaki said, “At Subaru we want to survive the age of electrification by being agile. We will install different systems while focusing on flexibility and extensibility.” The automaker currently has one EV on sale, which it co-developed with Toyota, but recently said it plans to introduce several new models by 2025.
Subaru sees potential in Australia, Canada and other parts of Asia but is struggling to meet demand due to chip shortages. Osaki noted that EV growth is unpredictable and that overcoming those challenges will require flexibility and rapidly responding to market changes.