Subaru Executive Confirms Hybrid Car Plans

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.”

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  • Dom

    I hope to see two things from Subaru – a manual transmission option on any proposed hybrid models, and their new boxer diesel engine sold in US models, also with a manual option. I’m more interested in the later however…

  • Ralph

    I would love an AWD hybrid that wasn’t an SUV for Midwest winter driving. But I’ll believe it when I see it.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    A hybrid (or any electric drive automobile) has about as much need for a manual transmission (or any transmission for that matter) as a car driver does for a buggywhip.
    An electric motor gets the same torque starting at zero RPMs and going up to a maximum of about 7,000 RPM’s (YMMV) from where it tapers off. See and you’ll see there is no need for a transmission if you let the electric motor do the heavy lifting.

  • Rupert

    Subaru’s AWD configuration would benefit from hybridization by allowing elimination of the viscous fluid transfer system. Instead, a FWD system with thin electric motor assist and RWD with an electric motor combined for AWD is perfect. By eliminating the heavy, fluid transfer drive, there becomes room for batteries and no change in overall vehicle weight.

    Retaining an internal combustion engine in PHEV form allows for heat in very cold climates and substantial air conditioning in very hot climates along with humidity control and window fog control in the cabin. Nevertheless, fuel consumption and emissions could be considerably lower than in an all combustion vehicle. Internal combustion also provides supplemental electric power for halogen headlamps and entertainment systems, steering and braking assist. LED and some HID headlamps become snow obstructed at <0F.
    Internal combustion keeps maintenance economies intact.

  • Dom

    ex-EV1 driver – I have no problems with the automakers removing the transmission altogether… but so far hybrids have all had some sort of automatic transmission… which I refuse to buy. And by automatic I mean anything that shifts for you, whether it’s a traditional torque converter type, a CVT, or even VW’s DSG (automatically shifted manual). If a car is going to have a transmission, give me a manual (especially with a diesel engine)… otherwise get rid of the transmission… it will be harder to miss shifting if there is no transmission…

    But if Subaru brings their boxer diesel it will of course have a transmission, so it better have a manual option.

    By the way, Honda seems to think manuals can work with hybrids… they did it in the past, and they’re getting ready to do it again with the CR-Z, which I think is really cool.

  • 9691

    I feel the same way. Automatics are like forklifts. Two pedals. You accelerate, you brake. No clutch, no control. It’s not about revving like some think, though with an electric motor skipping it altogether holds some merit.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    I think we’re aligned here. We have the HCH purely because it was available with the manual tranny and the Hybrid drivetrain.

  • Skeptic

    We’ve been here before. I’ll believe it when I see it.