Subaru Fans: Where's My Hybrid?

The new Subaru Hybrid Tourer Concept is cool—but Subaru fans are losing patience with the company’s hybrid promises.

If ever there was an automotive brand that embodied the spirit of hybrid cars—urban, progressive, outdoorsy, family-oriented—it would be Subaru. Furthermore, Toyota, the hybrid leader, owns 16 percent of Fuji Heavy Industries, the maker of Subaru cars. Yet, loyal Subaru owners continue to wait in vain for the Japanese company, whose name translates to “unite,” to delivers on its promise to go hybrid.

In May 2009, Subaru announced plans to introduce a gas-electric hybrid car by 2012—but provided no details. Readers of this website responded with enthusiasm. Family Guy wrote, “I want it. My 2002 Outback will be 10 years old by 2012. Now, I can look forward to the possibility of replacing my Subaru with a hybrid from Subaru. Woo!” But others appeared tired of waiting. TS wrote, “We leased a 2005 Outback, hoping they’d have a hybrid by the time the lease was up. Didn’t happen. Too bad. Bought a Prius now. They missed a window.” William admonished Subaru, “Toe dipping in the hybrid pool is useless.”

Subaru continues to dip its toes—and retreat. A few years ago, the company unveiled the Subaru B5 TPH (for Turbo Parallel Hybrid) concept car—a sporty two-seat, all-wheel-drive grand tourer that blends elements of a coupe, sporty hatchback, and Outback sport-utility. The company has been testing its diminutive Subaru R1e all-electric two-seat city car in the US—and in August even managed to launch the R1e-derived Subaru Stella Plug-In in Japan. The tiny Stella employs a 9.2 kilowatt-hour, 346-volt lithium ion battery pack and 47-kilowatt motor to deliver a top speed of 60 mph and a driving range of about 50 miles. Unfortunately, the car sells for $48,000—minus Japanese government incentives of nearly $20,000. (Mitsubishi offers the all-electric i-MiEV at a similar price.) Subaru is producing merely 170 units of the Stella Plug-in, essentially a small test run.

In the current run up to the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show approaches, some hybrid fans harbored hope that Subaru would finally pull the wraps off a practical affordable Subaru model heading to a US showroom sometime soon. Instead, the company yesterday announced plans to present the four-seat Subaru Hybrid Tourer Concept, yet another hypothetical rad-cool vehicle with gull-wing doors, lithium ion batteries, and motor-generators in front and back to electrify the company’s signature all-wheel drive and direct fuel-injected Boxer engine.

Subaru Hybrid Tourer Concept

Subaru Hybrid Tourer Concept

The Subaru Hybrid Tourer Concept, like the company’s previous concepts and hybrid announcements, will whet the appetite of eco-conscious Subie fans. At the same time, it will leave many of them wondering if Subaru will ever deliver a super-efficient ultra-safe gas-electric hybrid.


  • FamilyGuy

    I love being quoted in the article, but disappointed that this is not about something close to production! C’mon! Not only does there seem to be nothing close in the hybrid area, but the new 2010 Outback is BIGGER then the current model. The CVT seems to get reasonable mileage, but it would be even better on something along the current size. Why bigger this day in age? This website has had an article on the Volvo dissel-hybrid wagon and I might simply have to wait for that (and the price, too). Bummed about Subaru.

  • Dom

    I don’t want a Subaru hybrid… forget that… bring the boxer diesel!! A Subie wagon with a diesel and a manual transmission (AWD of course) would be killer and could be here much sooner than any hybrid concept… they already sell it in Europe… just a few tweaks to get the emissions compliant for the US, and they’d have a machine I’d love to buy. THAT is what this potential Subaru fan wants.

  • jonak

    I’ve driven Subaru WRX Impreza’s for the last 8 years; great cars, and not bad MPG given 4WD, especially when driven gently….
    but unless a small miracle occurs and Subaru get their act together, my next vehicle will most likley be a Prius, with a Volt, or possibly a Tesla S, in the running should they come to market in time.

    I’ve loved my Subarus, great cars for their day, and way better than the SUV or 4WD truck alternative, but don’t want to continue driving a dinosaur….

  • Mr.Bear

    I know the thought of a sport utility all wheel drive hybrid station wagon gets my blood racing.

  • Hillbilly

    Suabaru continues to disappoint me! I’m a loyal fan (currently on my third Subaru), but since 2000 their vehicles have gotten larger, with bigger engines or turbos, and the fuel economy as dropped to SUV levels. Please Subaru, take a moment to reflect on your past vehicles and rethink your current lineup. My loyalty is is running very thin! If things don’t change, I will be moving to the Prius.

  • _chukcha

    I don’t think that Subaru is afraid about fans moving to
    the Toyota Prius. After all, Subaru is owned by Toyota to a significant degree. I heard that Subaru is a sister company of Toyota, but I’m not sure about that…
    I think that’s why Subaru is not in any real hurry to innovate, they simply don’t want to tread on the toes of the parent company.

  • Impreza2.5RS owner

    I now own a 2002 Impreza 2.5 RS and love the car. It has almost 130K miles and has been extremely reliable. Most repairs I have had to make are just normal wear and tear. The only drwaback I have with the Impreza is that it only gets 24mpg.

    I would love to be able to get another Subaru when I finally retire the Impreza but I need something with better gas mileage. Right now that points to a hybrid and Subaru doesn’t have one. If they could actually put out a hybrid that gets 35-40mpg and was as relaible as my Impreza I would buy it. For now I will have to settle for another car manufacturer to get the hybrid I need.

  • Chis

    I have to echo the comments of other Subaru owners who are frustrated with their slow progress on hybrid models. I own a 1999 Forester that’s probably not going to be around in 2012. I would love to have the option of a Subaru hybrid or diesel, but I can only wait so long. At this point, I’ve started researching non-Subaru alternatives for a purchase in the next year. If Subaru would at least offer up some details about what we’ll be seeing in 2012, I might be able to justify waiting.

  • Chis

    I have to echo the comments of other Subaru owners who are frustrated with their slow progress on hybrid models. I own a 1999 Forester that’s probably not going to be around in 2012. I would love to have the option of a Subaru hybrid or diesel, but I can only wait so long. At this point, I’ve started researching non-Subaru alternatives for a purchase in the next year. If Subaru would at least offer up some details about what we’ll be seeing in 2012, I might be able to justify waiting.

  • Patrick

    I just don’t get Subaru. If they understood their American consumer they would be all over this hybrid thing. Think about it. Where do you see most of the Subarus? In the liberal Northeast, Minnesota, Wisconsin,and Alaska. Usually driven (based on my observations) by reasonably affluent, progressive owners who are the perfect target market for hybrids. What’s stopping them from introducing a 4WD hybrid version of the Legacy or Outback? The technology is off the shelf so would be fairly easy to incorporate.

    I happen to fit that demographic. My next car (in around 2014) will be a hybrid. My wife’s next car will be a hybrid. We’d like them to be 4WD Subaru wagons. Think we’ll get our wish?

  • tapra2

    R1e-derived Subaru Stella Plug-In in Japan. The tiny Stella employs a 9.2 kilowatt-hour, 346-volt lithium ion battery pack and 47-kilowatt motor to deliver a top speed of 60 mph and a driving range of about 50 miles.Network Blog

  • Rusties

    Have a little patient, it will take time for Subaru to get into hybrids.
    Toyota owns Subaru, so most likely they will be using the same system, problem is what vehicles they will place these systems. its a delicate marketing strategy to come to a decision. You don’t want to place them in vehicles, that will let them compete with there own vehicles.
    The same cause of GM down fall going back into the 60′s (buick,Chev, pontiac, etc,etc all making the same car and competing against each other.
    I am sure they will have one soon enough.
    So will Mazda, who signed a deal with Toyota for Hybrid systems. the smoke and mirror hype of (zoom,zoom) will come to an end soon. Our markets are changing, and you can only fool some of the people some of the time.

  • Rusties

    Everyone sells a Diesel in Europe for a long time.
    fact are Diesel will never burn as clean as gas. Insurance Co; unfortunately dictates what manufacturers build and sell. Ins; Co, are like Banks, they take you to the cleaners for absolutely no reason.

  • Saylijoshi87

    My Subaru sets an ideal example of latest styling and modern designs along with powerful engine. It perfectly fits into the luxurious segment of cars. Used cars in Mumbai