WHILE SUBARU AND TOYOTA work to bring a Subaru hybrid to market in 2012, the all-electric version of the Subaru Stella, which combines technology from the company?s R1-E prototype with the regular Japan-only Stella platform, is about to go on sale in the home islands.
With deliveries scheduled to begin in late July, Subaru is expecting to sell around 170 units of the plug-in Stella between now and March 31, 2010 ? the end of Japan?s next fiscal year.
Powered by a high performance lithium-ion battery (petrol/battery hybrids such as the Prius draw the electric part of their power from nickel-cadmium batteries), the production version of the all-electric Stella returns up to 90km from one charge - more than enough range for the average city dweller.
The plug-in Stella can be charged up to 80 percent capacity in just 15 minutes using a special ?quick charge? system, while a regular AC100 volt Japanese household power outlet will provide a full charge in eight hours.
Part of that 90km range is gained through a regenerative system which recovers inertia energy during deceleration, enhancing the Stella?s efficient running.
Almost a featherweight at 1010kg, the four-seat Stella delivers a sufficient 47kW and 170Nm of torque (which is available immediately) through the front wheels, courtesy of the Permanent Magnet Synchronous System.
In keeping with its urban angle, the Stella has an electronically-limited top speed of 100km/h.
Despite its diminutive size and low power, the advanced technology has assured ? for now at least ? that Stella will be the most expensive car in its size class, starting at ?4,725,000, or $60,700 in Australian dollars.
On the bright side, the Japanese government will offer a ?1,380,000 subsidy (AU$17,700) through its Next Generation Vehicle Promotion Centre program. Further tax benefits are expected to help environment-conscious buyers pick up the Stella for a good price.
What about the Aussie market? With Mitsubishi working and hoping for a 2010 release of its similar i-MIEV electric vehicle, Subaru may well plan to beat the three red diamonds to the punch. At this point, TMR has been unable to confirm Subaru?s plans in Australia for the Stella.
With third-party battery service provider Better Place teaming up with Macquarie Capital Group and AGL Energy to establish an electric vehicle battery charging infrastructure in Australia, one thing is certain: we?re moving in the right direction.