Subaru Hybrid Expected Next Year
by Zach McDonald: HybridCars.com
Last year, Subaru announced a new directive with the goal of cutting its lineup’s overall emissions by 30 percent within 5 years. Dubbed “Motion V,” the plan called for technological cooperation with Toyota and the release of a hybrid variant of one existing model in 2013.
Since that announcement, Subaru has been tight-lipped about which model would its first gas-electric powertrain. Early reports speculated that it might be the Legacy mid-size sedan or possibly the newly-remade Impreza, which is currently the most fuel-efficient vehicle in the Subaru lineup. Lately, the most likely candidate has been considered to be the Forester crossover (which is built on the Impreza platform.)
While we may not yet know the model name of Subaru’s first hybrid, what we do know is the car will carry a proprietary gas-electric system designed in-house, as opposed to leased from another company like Toyota. That development is important, not only because it will help to keep down costs for the car, but because it indicates a commitment on the part of Subaru to continue to develop and aggressively market hybrids in the future.
While it has become the norm for every carmaker to offer at least one hybrid or electric model in its lineup, many of these cars are considered “halo” or “compliance” cars, helping their manufacturers to “green” their images or meet regulatory requirements without ever being intended to seriously compete in the market. A common thread among these vehicles is that they often involve leased hybrid technology, but Subaru’s decision to use its own system shows that gas-electrics are likely to play a major role in the Motion V strategy.
The most recent clue we have as to what Subaru’s hybrid technology might encompass came in 2009, when the company debuted its Hybrid Tourer concept at the Tokyo Motor Show. That car carried a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine alongside an electric motor providing 13 horsepower of assist. Power for the motor was provided by a small lithium ion battery pack.
Subaru’s commitment to lowering emissions won’t just be limited to hybrids of course—all new or redesigned models in the lineup are expected to feature significant gains in fuel economy. But to many devoted Subaru drivers who have been calling a hybrid option for years, 2013 can’t come soon enough.