Subaru’s fortunes in the United States have certainly been on the upswing over the past few years, but the company does feel it’s missing a certain something: a gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle. Luckily, the automaker seems to be readying a vehicle that will plug the perceived gap in its product portolio.
Our sources at Subaru confirm we will definitely be seeing a hybrid from the automaker by 2013 at the very latest. We’ve learned, however, that the vehicle will not use a hybrid drive system adapted from that used by corporate parent Toyota. Instead, Subaru’s system will be unique, and most importantly, compatible with both boxer engines and all-wheel-drive systems.
Details on the system — or even which vehicles will be offered with it — are still fleeting, but if the final product resembles that previewed with the 2005 B5-TPH concept, expect Subaru’s hybrid system to sandwich an electric motor between the engine and transmission. Seeing how the automaker has been working with electronics giant NEC to develop lithium-ion battery packs since 2002, such a battery could very well make it into the production hybrid, but Subaru has also been tinkering with lithium-ion capacitor technologies for some time.
Subaru feels the fuel economy offered by its present models can weather any moderate increases in gas prices, but according to Tom Doll, COO of Subaru of America, the addition of a hybrid model will only strengthen its position as an eco-conscious automaker. In the mean time, expect the automaker to ramp up production at its Indiana assembly plant to keep pace with demand for its conventional Legacy and Outback offerings.
Source: Subaru, Reuters