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The Future's Electric

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Subaru will have an electric vehicle in the showrooms this year. Head of Subaru of America Communications Michael McHale said "We have a Plug-In Hybrid coming soon". This is in line with Subaru Global website were the 'Our Future' page shows a development timeline. There is much speculation but Subaru have been tight lipped and not announced which model will be treated to the hybrid technology, only that there will be one by the end of 2018.


The development timeline suggests a new downsized turbo engine which looks set to be teamed up with the hybrids battery pack. The Levorg already has a 1.6 litre, could this mean there is an even smaller one on the way? A 1.4 hybrid would make sense but based on the tight timescales I suspect they will stick with the 1.6 initially and simply incorporate the hybrid technology.


Subaru's venture into electrifying their fleet is still very new  and their first attempt with the 2014 Crosstek (XV) in the US did not sell well and was pulled from production. Takeshi Tachimori, Subaru's Chief Technical Officer said "For our Plug-in Hybrid to be introduced this year we have used Toyota's technology as much as possible". Why Toyota? Well they do have a 16.5% controlling stake I Subaru and it makes sense to use existing technology that has been tried and tested in the short term. Looking further ahead Subaru's in-house EV department will continue to develop their tech and Subaru have also joined Toyota, Mazda, Hino, Daihatsu, Suzuki and Denso to form an EV venture to help develop the technology and streamline development of future Electric Vehicles. This will help Subaru meet their announced target of having a full EV in the showrooms by 2021.


This brings us back to the question, which model of Subaru are they planning to shoe horn a Prius into? Takeshi Tachimori said the first PHEV will be exported from Japan to the US. The current Impreza, Legacy, Outback and new Ascent that are destined for the US market are built in Subaru's US plant in Lafayette Indiana, so is noth likely to be any of them. The Next-Gen Forester however does look like a contender to receive the electric treatment as they are made in Japan and a new on is on the way too. This is of course speculation but the PHEV is on its way and there are definitely interesting times ahead.


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Unfortunately, the price of fuel is only going one way long term and our guzzling Boxers just can't adapt. Pumping losses and the AWD system are the unbreachable walls.

IMHO, the only way to overcome this is getting rid of the gearbox, the true heart of a Subaru. A Squirrel cage AC direct drive at each corner, gives you fully torque bias independent AWD, with a range extending generator to provide power and fast recharging en route.

The tech is there now to produce an Impreza sized car with the power of the STi and actually be lighter than the recently deceased version. It's been compact enough to run in MPV type cars for the last 2-3 years already. 

You take DC and invert it with a frequency proportional to the speed you want. The frequency varies as you press the pedal. The Difference between frequency and speed gives slip which produces torque and current flow. If any tyre slips, the slip and torque to it reduces. Simples. I've been a fan of this kind of drive for ages.


I love engines and fast cars and bikes, but I'm not afraid of the future...


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