IN RECENT YEARS Subaru has made it clear that it favours the development of diesel powertrains over investing in hybrid technology. But with global buyer sentiment shifting (and more manufacturers getting on the hybrid train), Subaru has now declared its intent to also bring a hybrid model to market.
Subaru's hybrid is slated for a 2012 debut. At this stage though it's unknown whether it will be an entirely new model or an addition to an existing product line.
Subaru has dabbled in hybrids before, unveiling the petrol-electric B5 TPH concept at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2005 (above), however this is the first solid indication from the Japanese company that it is committed to the technology.
Toyota, which holds a 16 percent stake in Subaru's parent company, Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI), will provide technological assistance for the project - a coup for Subaru, considering Toyota's reluctance to spread its hybrid know-how beyond its own brands.
Tougher environmental regulations planned for the United States are rumoured to be the primary motivators behind Subaru's decision, however the company won't be abandoning its diesel plans anytime soon.
The Japanese automaker is still working on a diesel powerplant that will satisfy the incoming US legislation, and FHI CEO and President Ikuo Mori says the new engine should arrive on the scene in 2011 or 2012.
The third prong in Subaru's eco-assault will be all-electric, with the company currently engaged in testing its Stella EV and R1-e battery-electric (above), with the Stella to go on sale in Japan later this year and the R1-e possibly heading Stateside in the near future.
With hybrids, diesels and electric vehicles all in the works, could Subaru overtake Toyota as the most environmentally-friendly manufacturer? Watch this space.