Subaru has confirmed it has no plans to produce autonomous vehicles, despite major industry players aggressively pursuing research to that end.
In comments reported by Reuters, Tetsuo Onuki, chief general manager of Subaru’s engineering department, declared: “We’re not aiming to develop driverless cars. What we’re trying to do is make driving safer for people.”
Onuki-san noted the company is “looking at how to develop [more advanced self-driving] capabilities, but we believe such functions will remain beyond the reach of Subaru customers”.
He made these comments at an event to launch the company’s new Touring Assist technology. Using the company’s EyeSight system, Touring Assist can steer, brake and accelerate without driver intervention, and can keep the car within its lane during heavy traffic or on highways.
Touring Assist will make its debut soon on the Japanese market Levorg and WRX S4, although it’s not clear when this technology will appear in overseas markets.
The company will reportedly continue to develop driving assistance features on its own, although it will use external suppliers when necessary.
Despite the company’s ongoing sales success, it is significantly smaller than top-tier automakers, including Toyota, Honda, General Motors, Ford, and Renault–Nissan.
As noted by Automotive News last month, Subaru has an annual research and development budget of 134 billion yen ($1.6 billion). That’s dwarfed by Honda’s plans to spend 750 billion yen ($9.1 billion) this financial year, and Toyota, which plans to allocate 1.05 trillion yen ($12.7 billion) this year to R&D.
With these restrictions in mind, Yasuyuki Yoshinaga, Subaru’s CEO, recently revealed the company plans to direct most of the company’s limited funds towards developing electric drivetrains, with its first EV model due in 2021.