Subaru Plans Hybrid Car for 2012

Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., the maker of Subaru cars, announced plans this week to introduce a gas-electric hybrid car by 2012. Fuji Heavy will rely on Toyota, which owns a 16 percent stake in the company, to help with vehicle development and technology.

Subaru B5 TPH Hybrid Concept

In 2005, Subaru unveiled a sporty two-seat hybrid concept car, the Subaru B5 TPH Hybrid. Leveraging its relationship with Toyota, Subaru is now planning a production hybrid by 2012.

Subaru is the latest in a line of carmakers announcing plans to enter the hybrid market. Other major auto brands planning to introduce a first hybrid in the next few years include Audi, BMW, Hyundai, Mazda, Mercedes, Porsche and Volkswagen. The movement toward hybrids, the most fuel-efficient vehicles on the road, will be accelerated due to higher fuel-efficiency standards and tougher emissions rules recently enacted in the United States. Automakers must meet average efficiency standards of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016, four years sooner than previous planned. Europe and Japan are also implementing tougher regulations.

“We will take advantage of our alliance with Toyota,” said Ikuo Mori, president and chief executive at Fuji Heavy, after a news conference launching the revamped Legacy model.
Mori did not specify which Subaru vehicle might get the hybrid treatment. Subaru’s brand qualities—outdoorsy yet urban and progressive—are well suited to hybrid buyers.

Auto sales in Japan and the United States have taken a dramatic slide this year—but hybrid gas-electric cars, such as the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius, have made a rebound in Japan in the past month or two. The Japanese government has introduced a number of incentives for hybrids and other fuel-efficient cars, which have apparently produced the positive results.

A future Subaru hybrid is not the company’s first foray into greener high-tech cars. 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. Its turbocharged 2.0-liter boxer four is mated with a very thin electric motor-generator. Lithium ion batteries for the Subaru B5 TPH were co-developed by Fuji Heavy Industries and NEC Corp.

Subaru has also been testing its R1e, all-electric city car. The diminutive two-seater, about 20 inches longer than a Smart ForTwo, has a top speed of 65 miles per hour and a range of 50 miles. The real innovation of the R1e could be the car’s rapid recharging system also developed with NEC. The system promises a full recharge of the 346-volt lithium ion battery pack in about 15 minutes or less. Subaru has about 40 R1e electric cars in fleets in Japan, and has been evaluating two R1es in the United States, working in collaboration with the New York Power Authority.

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  • Skeptic

    I’ll believe it when I see it. Their first announcement was vaporware. They pulled back and punted to Toyota, sharing some of the battery technology they had in return for hybrid tech.

    Unfortunately, Subaru is in the process of uglifying their whole line. Apparently not reading the papers at HQ, both the 2010 Outback and Forester are larger (and uglier) than their predecessors. The latter is said to be nearly the size of a Jeep Cherokee (which I find hard to believe).

    So, which gets delivered first? The Chevy Volt or a hybrid Subaru?

  • FamilyGuy

    The article I’ve been waiting for! I want it. My 2002 Outback will be 10 years old by 2012, so I might just be ready for a new car then. My Subaru Outback has been a great compliment car to my Altima Hybrid. Now, I can look forward to the possibility of replacing my Subaru with a hybrid from Subaru. Woo!

  • william

    Sorry Subaru, but you have missed the hybrid boat unless you plan on rolling out PHEVs as your hybrid solution in 2012. The age of the internal combustion engine is passing…toe dipping in the hybrid pool is useless…

  • ts

    Wouldn’t it be nice? But Subaru is a small company with a very tight bottom line. 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.

  • fred smilek

    2012? why so long..this seems like a nice ride..very small for my taste but very nice.

  • eldono

    Agreed. My Forester is one of the overall best vehicles I’ve owned (we own two). I bought it because of its crossover cred (compact utility vehicle with with great safety record and reasonable mpg) but lately the company has been infected with the bloat. Not a good sign. I had hoped that separation from GM would result in a return to the solid practical vehicles of the past. I will not buy a new, bigger, gas guzzling Forester. Sorry Subaru.

  • Dom

    I’d be much more interested if they follow through with their previously announced plan to bring their new boxer diesel engine to the US (with manual transmission option at that). This engine is something they have already developed and sell in Europe. Seems it’d be a much cheaper and quicker option than developing a new hybrid from scratch (or even borrowing Toyota tech).

  • shadow

    Make a hybrid Outback and they will come. Don’t try to be a Prius wanna-be

  • www

    I am excited about the idea of an electric car, but why do most electric car designs are so horrible (including the one in the picture in this article). Take Subaru Legacy Outback 1998 or 2001 and place an electric motor in it. In fact, I am WAITING for all-road electric Subaru Legacy Outback. Existing Subaru cars are nice, but I cannot stand what they propose for their electric car, it’s ugly duckling!

  • Kelly Mcdonald

    Believe it when you see it. Subaru makes good cars, but it doesn’t always deliver on its announcements about bringing new products to the U.S. In 2007, Subaru announced plans to sell its diesel cars in the U.S. in 2010. Those cars made it to Europe, but never crossed the pond. Too bad. And, no disrespect intended, the R1e is a slightly amped up golf cart that may be useful in a few ultra urban areas. It’s not a serious option for mainstream green driving anywhere.

  • prius owner

    my local subaru dealer, when I was VERY interested in prius or legacy, treated me like third class citizen, in favor of cash for clunkers…told me they are tired come back tomorrow…my truck missed qualifying by 2 mph…I like new legacy redesign, boxer engine is outdated though….so I went with 2010 prius…I never owned hybrid or prius before…I usually own honda, but honda insight looks like clone of prius…and driving it is very video game like with sport shifter on steering wheel like fit….all the hondas now just borrow from each other…prius is very responsive and sporty…and drives like normal vehicle…that being said, there is definite difference which is unnoticeable until you hop back in 160 hp car definitely more oomph…dont notice it though, as there is power mode in prius…electric mode not too useful except in traffic jams….otherwise, I have enjoyed immensely my prius so far…only giant SUVs trying to block the road are a pain….I can pass easily, climb hills easily…also on highway during test drive…insight and civic hybrid had wobbly feel in steering, didnt feel secure commuting daily in either…IMHO

  • Anonymous

    I wrote to Subaru back in 2003-2004 about how they really needed to put a hybrid on the market. The response I got was that there was a plan for 2008-2009. Well, it is 2010. I informed Subaru that my next car wouldn’t be with them unless I saw a hybrid in their line. I now drive a Toyota.

  • SKR

    I just want a hybrid wagon with ground clearance. Looks like it’s never going to happen. I hate my VW and the Outback’s 19MPG just doesn’t cut it. I may have to buy a hybrid SUV and that just sucks.

  • Elie Bejjani, Lebanon 00 961 3 714393

    OH YES!, Finally … An electric-gaz Hhybrid from Subaru B5-TPH .. That’s what i have beem waiting for . I’ve owned my first impreza 1999, then 2002, then 2006, but unfortunately in 2008 i could NOT buy the new body , it became very expensive in Lebanon . ( 30000 USD for the 2.0 engine ) and it seems that the the 1.5 engine will not be avaialble in Lebanon from our Local Dealer in Lebanon , so i switched to daihatsu Terios 1.5 engine 2010 model. But i’m still aiming to the Impreza .. So if Subaru is interested of keeping a wider range of clients available in the lebanese market, a wider range means clients who are employees and their monthly revenue is under 2000 usd , which represents 72 % of the working force in Lebanon, then i think Subaru should help the lebanese dealer of subaru with special REDUCED price for the impreza 1.5 or 2.0 engine , even if it is NOT yet converted to Hybrid, and i sure hope it will be , one day VERY soon !!! Ahhh one more thing .. Please can subaru REDUCE the price of its Hybrid car availabel on the market , so i can buy it , because i can not pay more than 18000 USD .. and i would like very much to contribute to REDUCTION of Pollution and DRIVE a more greener car every day , especially in Lebanon . I don’t know to whom to send this message , to the subaru team marketing amangement maybe ?? anyway if someone knows to whom i should sent my message, please feel free to forward it to the person in charge of these 2 issues .

  • Richard Poor

    If Subaru seeks to imitate the present Toyota, they are making a terrible mistake. As early as 2003 there were no technical obstacles to making the 80 mile all electric range, Toyota RAV4EV a PHEV. See WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR. Had it not been for a Chevron vs Toyota lawsuit which Chevron won, maybe we would have a quality Toyota PHEV by now. However, an AWD Forester from Subaru as a PHEV would be very good. There are enough good batteries out there now to avoid the Toyota trap.

    Tired of seeing smoke and mirrors concept cars. If Nissan can build a solid LEAF EV, Toyota or Subaru can build a solid PHEV…something other than engineering is stopping them.

  • oil can

    an alliance with toyota, hopefully that does include recalls. maybe toyota will license their hybrid car software to subaru–that would be a runaway success.

  • no compromise

    call me when they release an Impreza STI with a turbocharged 2.0 and an electric drive/charging system at each wheel which would allow for independent torque management at all four corners. Oh, a sequential manual gearbox and paddle shifting would be nice too…

  • Jared Salinger

    Yeah, they might as well give up. It’s all over. All the hybrids have been built and bought. We’re like so way past getting 50 miles per gallon. Now it’s got to be all electric or nothing, even if it means that hybrids, mass produced and accepted would make a significant reduction in oil consumption. The all electric cars run on magic electricity that comes from power plants that don’t pollute. Wait, this just in…All electric is like already so 5 minutes ago. Now it’s the new, anti-gravity flying saucermobile!

  • Andrey

    All-electric cars in mass production will not happen soon. The main reason is that today all cars in the world consume about twice more energy than all power plants produce. And because significant portion of power plants burn fossil fuels it is not gonna make significant improvement to the problem of pollution. So, the nearest half of the century will belong to the hybrids.

  • living within means

    AWD Electric. Still Waiting. C’mon guys. Maybe at least a diesel manual.
    The 98 GT has 250k on it… starting to rust, and I’m not spending $1200 to fix the dern sunroof. Cash has been in hand for a while, but the dealers keep trying to sell me the ‘bigger’ 2011 line. I don’t want bigger (like the other poster mentioned).
    I want ELE AWD. Hurry up Sub. The volt and c30 are looking like the only options…
    I am leaning, like the tower of pisa, and the dealers keep pushing harder…

  • judith tobi

    I have been waiting and waiting. My Subaru has 180,000 miles on it and if they don’t have a hybrid soon I am going to have to buy a prius or a ford hybrid which I don’t want to do but how long can someone wait. I love my 2002 outback and I do not want a huge car like the new models….please if there is anyone at Subaru even listening..I will give you 6 months and then I’m breaking up with you.

  • dryfly4life

    I am a die hard Subaru fan, have been since day 1. I just bought back my first car (a 95 Legacy wagon) from the guy I sold it to 3 years ago. Part of the deal when I sold it to him was that I got the right of first refusal if he ever sold it.

    I’ve read all of your posts and they are all valid. Keep in mind that Subaru’s larger 2010 models were built that way because of hundreds of threads just like this where couples, who were now families, were going elsewhere because Subaru did not make a car big enough to hold more than 2 car seats. And these days, our kids are supposed to be in car seats until they graduate from high school!

    That being said, I too have watched fervently for an actual U.S. unveiling of a true Subaru Hybrid or even a full EV. I live in a metro area and would love nothing more than to own a smaller, more fuel efficient Sooby to make my 7 mile commute. Alas, it has never happened. With Subaru’s commitment to the environment I find this really hard to understand. It’s nifty that their Indiana plant is a zero landfill facility but it seems that cart should have come after the Hybrid horse.

    Subaru, if your listening, please put your design dollars where your marketing mouth is. As a loyal supporter, I’m tired of waiting and defending my now mediocre gas mileage to all those I try to refer to you and your cars. We deserve better.

    Live up to the reputation you have made for yourself and keep making great cars.

  • Cindy Brown | Atlanta wedding photography

    Can’t wait for the Subaru hybrid. I was afraid I was going to have to break my brand loyalty to Subaru to go green. Glad I won’t have to!

  • Robert Fisher

    Yes…a hybrid Outback wagon would be the best of all possible automotive worlds. Just do it…the technology exists! I have an 01 Outback and when the time comes for a new one (probably the last car I’ll buy…I’m 71 yrs old) I want to stay with Subaru if possible

  • Subiefan

    I have driven Subarus for over 20 years, but the current one will be my last if they don’t come out with a more fuel-efficient model. The new Legacy/Outbacks are too large–wrong direction, folks!

  • MrNatural

    I have a 2003 Outback which I bought new and plan on keeping another couple of years or so. My experience with it, except for the mediocre gas milage, has been quite good and would love to stay with Subaru when the time comes. However, I will only buy a Subaru if they have a decent hybrid, I will not put up with another gas guzzler and is harmful to the environment relative to other cars. I don’t want a bigger car, I want a smarter car.

    Hopefully gas prices will rise dramatically in the next few years, I fear that’s the only way we will see automobile companies deliver with hybrids and electric cars that are competitively priced.

  • Bill Kelley

    I drive a 2007 Forester. Love the car but need more leg room on the right. My leg always gets cramped on long trips. No reason not to slim down the center console in a new design. Weather it be a hybrid or fuel cell, i will wait for 2012 to see what is new with Subaru. Right now I am planning to buy new but had scratched another Subrau off the list more because of leg room more than milage.

  • Kate Subaru Fan

    I too want a hybrid with higher clearance than the Prius, Insight, et al. I also want unpainted bumpers. I am so sick of all the dings on the front and back bumpers that are painted the same color as the car. They are called “bumpers” for a reason!

    I wrote to Subaru a few years ago asking for a hybrid, and their canned response to me was that “all their vehicles met or exceeded federal gas mileage guidelines…” That’s not good enough anymore, not when the Prius gets at least twice the mileage of any Subaru.

    Please, Subaru, give us a hybrid with comparable gas mileage/technology as the Prius, plus with the higher clearance and tough black bumpers that you USED to provide on your cars. I need a new car and it’s going to be a hybrid, and I can’t keep waiting forever.

  • Kate Subaru Fan

    I too want a hybrid with higher clearance than the Prius, Insight, et al. I also want unpainted bumpers. I am so sick of all the dings on the front and back bumpers that are painted the same color as the car. They are called “bumpers” for a reason!

    I wrote to Subaru a few years ago asking for a hybrid, and their canned response to me was that “all their vehicles met or exceeded federal gas mileage guidelines…” That’s not good enough anymore, not when the Prius gets at least twice the mileage of any Subaru.

    Please, Subaru, give us a hybrid with comparable gas mileage/technology as the Prius, plus with the higher clearance and tough black bumpers that you USED to provide on your cars. I need a new car and it’s going to be a hybrid, and I can’t keep waiting forever.

  • Dominique Macaire

    Why not bring the Forester diesel to the US? A manuel transmission, fantastic mileage on par with a Jetta TDI, all wheel drive of course, everything I personally want… The reviews for this car in Europe have been excellent. What exactly is the problem here? Americans are going to get diesel cars, there is no alternative! Hybrids are fine also, but I want a stick shift! Electric plug-in cars, on the other hand, are really coal cars, so no thanks.

  • Losing patience

    I would like always to own a Subaru but come on. Gas mileage is a joke and all models are getting larger. The appeal of my Forester was the smaller size with all the utility. You are making it difficult to remain loyal.

  • Losing patience

    I would like always to own a Subaru but come on. Gas mileage is a joke and all models are getting larger. The appeal of my Forester was the smaller size with all the utility. You are making it difficult to remain loyal.

  • Don DiNaro

    I drove subaru cars from 1981~2005, but left when they had NO hybrid model. Subaru AWD was the best in the business, lets see if they use lithium batteries and AWD. hopefully the body will not be a square box design.

  • danwat1234

    Nope, no hybrid for the Subaru 2012 year. That is unfortunate. I hope they adopt Direct Injection technology, electric HVAC, electric power steering and electric water pumps as well to improve MPG.
    We’ll see what the 2013 year brings. I know other auto manufactures are really stepping it up in 2013 with the Ford Fiesta 1L turbo, new Honda engines (DI and Atkinson cycle behavior), the 2013 ford fusion hybrid and more.

  • Dr. Nona B. B.

    We trust Subaru more than any other for our all wheel needs. I remember when it first came to the US with an SUV (real mini van/bus) sort of car through American Motors in the Late 60s. One of the geeks in my class had one! In 1986 we bought a wagon, replaced it with the AWESOME SVX, totaled it in a wreck as soon as we got the pink slip. Searched high & low for a used SVX (or any used Subaru – people used to drive them til the car died) and finally found a replacement SVX. It got old and we discovered the Tribeca as soon as it came out. We love it! We got it before almost anyone else knew it existed!! However, even though it is a “clean car”, WHEN are we getting our high mileage, nicely appointed SUBARU?????? Why can’t they make an alternative energy car when they have been so far ahead all these decades? We boomers need your safety but you have got to help us with the fuel efficiency!

  • family man

    Need them large for families. If you want a smaller car get an impreza.

  • Hana Princess

    We have owned our 1999 Subaru Outback for 12 years. Great dependable car except for when Goodyear forgot to fill our radiator with fluid before we left on our Yellowstone trip. Thank goodness it was under warranty then. Subaru overhauled the car, but we still get sputters once in a while on long trips.

    We even put 90k miles tires on it in 2007 and got 100k miles use so far. We need to replace tires and are tired of waiting for a hybrid Subaru Outback. Don’t know if we should put another 90k miles tire on it again or 50k miles tires because with gas prices these days we would like to buy a hybrid next.

    We have 190k miles on it and are anxiously waiting for a hybrid Subaru Outback. We would like to remain loyal to Subaru, but if it comes down to a high price tag to fix the transmission and there is no hybrid Subaru Outback by then, we might be forced to get the a hybrid Toyota vehicle next.

    Come on Subaru!!!