Subaru Sets 2012 Target for Battery Car Debut

Maker expects record sales despite horrid U.S. car market.

by on Dec.03, 2009

The Subaru Hybrid Tower concept signals the Japanese maker's plan to launch its first -electric model in 2012.its fi

The Hybrid Tower concept signals the Japanese maker's plan to launch its first -electric model in 2012, though U.S. plans haven't been revealed.

Late to the game, Subaru nevertheless plans to launch its first hybrid by 2012, company officials told TheDetroitBureau.com, during an interview at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Though a global roll-out is planned, they cautioned that there are no specific plans in place for bringing the gasoline-electric vehicle to the U.S., though it will make it to the market eventually.

During a news conference in L.A., vice president Michael McHale noted that the Japanese automaker has already sold more vehicles, through November, than it did all last year, despite the otherwise horrid conditions of the American auto market.

“We predict we’ll end 2009 with an all-time record, said McHale.

Auto Show News!

Auto Show News!

The planned hybrid will be loosely based on the Hybrid Tower Concept, a gull-winged show car first seen at the Tokyo Motor Show, in October, and now on display in L.A.  The prototype, an official noted, was designed to demonstrate that Subaru’s trademark boxer engine can be used in a hybrid powertrain.

The track-ready 2010 Subaru STi Spec Edition made its debut in Los Angeles.

The track-ready 2010 Subaru STi Spec Edition made its debut in Los Angeles.

The Tower couples a 2.0-liter direct injection internal combustion engine with two electric motors, one in front, one driving the rear axle.  The approach is intended as much to yield better performance as to boost fuel economy, though officials say that in production, the approach will yield “significantly better fuel economy.”

Precise details about the upcoming Subaru hybrid have yet to be released, though TheDetroitBureau.com confirmed it will feature all-wheel-drive.

Getting into the hybrid market is a challenge for Japan’s second-tier makers.  The segment is largely dominated by the top two players, Toyota and Honda.  Nonetheless, Subaru is betting it’s critical to maintain momentum.  That’s something the automaker had plenty of, this year.

Through the end of November, American buyers snapped up 193,578 Subaru cars and crossovers, up from 170,412 during the first 11 months of 2008.

While Subaru may be eyeing the so-called green space, don’t expect it to abandon more traditional product segments.

During its time in the L.A. Auto Show spotlight, the carmaker revealed two new variants, including the STI Spec Edition, a track-ready version of its fastest model.  The Spec maintains the 305 horsepower of the basic STI’s 2.5-liter turbo four, but introduces special suspension components from Subaru’s Spec C performance arm.  Surprisingly, the STI Spec Edition will be offered at $32,995, or $2,000 less than the standard STI.

Subaru also rolled out the WRX Limited, with a new leather interior package.

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