Subaru will introduce an all-wheel-drive plug-in hybrid later this year, utilizing Toyota’s plug-in hybrid system found in the Prius Prime. The plug-in Subaru is expected to retain its longitudinally mounted boxer engine—while likely adding an 8.8 kilowatt-hour battery pack that provides about 20 to 25 miles of all-electric range.
Subaru will launch the plug-in hybrid in California and other states that adhere to California’s emissions standards. According to a report released last month from CDP, formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project, Subaru is the least prepared among 16 global automakers to meet increasingly stringent emissions standards. Subaru currently lacks any hybrids or electric vehicles.
The CDP is a UK-based non-profit organization that collects and analyzes self-reported environmental data. The study entitled “Driving Disruption” analyzed data from 16 of the world’s largest automakers. BMW, Daimler, Toyota, Nissan, and Honda were named the best-performing carmakers on climate issues. Subaru ranked last, followed by Fiat-Chrysler, Suzuki, and Hyundai.
Subaru will follow the introduction of a plug-in hybrid this year with a pure electric car in about 2021. Subaru will rely on partnerships to deploy cars with electric powertrains. The company will work mostly with Toyota, which owns 17 percent of Subaru.
“For our plug-in hybrid to be introduced this year, we have used Toyota’s technologies as much as possible,” said Takeshi Tachimori, the automaker’s chief technology officer. In late 2017, Subaru joined a new EV venture formed by Toyota and other affiliated manufacturers.
Subaru first promised a plug-in hybrid about five years ago. In March 2013, Automotive News reported that Subaru would soon launch the Crosstrek Plug-in Hybrid. The company debuted a conventional hybrid (no-plug) version of the Subaru Crosstrek in 2013—but discontinued the model in 2017 due to low sales.
In 2013, the company also showed a Subaru Viziv plug-in crossover concept at the Geneva Motor Show. When that concept utilized a 2.0-liter diesel boxer engine mated to a CVT, it was readily apparent that it had little chance of going into production. The concept also featured butterfly doors and 20-inch wheels, which would have made a spectacular production model.
Subaru has not yet confirmed which model will take on the plug-in hybrid powertrain. It will likely use either the 2018 Crosstrek or one its top-sellers, such as the Outback or Forester.