TOKYO — Subaru, a slow starter in the global electrification race, is overhauling its product development strategy and building a new R&D center to better compete in an era of electrified vehicles.
The comparatively small Japanese automaker will plow $272.2 million into a new seven-story technical center at its domestic production hub in Gunma prefecture just north of Tokyo.
The facility will open in spring 2024 and bring under one roof about 2,800 workers from engineering, product planning and design. The goal is to speed the automaker's product development process and improve flexibility as the industry shifts to electrified vehicles.
Under a new product development strategy announced in May, Subaru will adopt a matrix-style development approach focused on features — such as powertrains, driver-assist systems and connectivity — and on values, such as safety and the environment.
Subaru said the change will improve efficiency over its old way of developing optimal packages by body type and model.
To direct the shift, Subaru in January established the office of the chief technology officer to coordinate development. The automaker's technology chief is engineering veteran Senior Vice President Tetsuo Fujinuki, and Vice President Kazuki Uejima headsthe office as its general manager.
"We aim to create an organization that is well suited to developing new technologies such as electrification technology, software and communications," Subaru said.
The new R&D center will be designed to allow easier cooperation with outside partners, such as suppliers and academics. It will house a space for joint research with Gunma University for next-generation technologies, such as safety systems and efficient design processes.