In May, Subaru announced its intentions to produce the first Subaru hybrid gas-electric vehicle by 2012. Speaking from the Tokyo Motor Show yesterday, Ikuo Mori, president of Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., maker of Subaru cars, reiterated the company’s hybrid plans, saying that a hybrid would help Subaru meet tougher US fuel economy rules.
He did not specify which model would get a hybrid drivetrain, but suggested it would be a smaller vehicle. Subaru is developing its own unique hybrid system, but will lean on Toyota, which owns 16.5 percent of Fuji Heavy, for assistance with the technology. “It’s impossible to simply transplant Toyota’s systems into a Subaru vehicle, so we will research how to match it with Subaru’s platforms,” Mori said, in an interview with Automotive News. Mori added that Subaru will introduce the hybrid in an existing model, rather than creating a dedicated hybrid-only vehicle.
Mori believes that it’s critical to maintain a Subaru’s “distinctive performance” and all-wheel drive with the upcoming hybrid. “We won’t introduce a people mover or a volume car just for the sake of having green technology,” he said. Mori expressed concern about the company’s ability to meet long-range emissions regulations with its current gasoline engines. “We need a hybrid system.”