Subaru Mini-EV to Launch In Japan Next Year

By John O'Dell September 8, 2008

SubaruStella2.jpg Subaru parent Fuji Heavy Industries has decided to join the growing cadre of carmakers hustling to launch battery-electric vehicles for the retail market.

A report in Automotive News, a subscription-only auto industry journal, says the company intends to build a limited run of four-seat minicar EVs with a range of 50 miles per charge. The cars will be based on the gasoline-fueled Subaru Stella model and intended for Japan's intra-city commuter market.

Actually, Subaru pretty much confirmed production plans for the car during the New York Auto Show in March, and introduced a few concept models of its EV at the recent G8 economic summit in Japan earlier this summer. But it's nice to see additional info hitting the media.

Subaru plans to launch the cars next year and is aiming to sell about 200 to fleet customers in Japan.

Like Mitsubishi's minicar-based i-MiEV electric car, the Subaru EV isn't intended for the U.S. market, Automotive News reports - although Fuji put a couple test cars into service in New York following the auto show there earlier this year and is about to wrap up a six-month test to gauge the cars' chances in this market.

(We also suspect that Mitsubish, which has tested its i-MiEV in the States, is rethinking its plans and considering the possibility that these tiny cars just might have a future here if marketed to the proper audience.)

Power for the Suby EV will be storied in and delivered by a lithium-ion battery pack from Automotive Energy Supply Corp. - a joint venture of Nissan Motor Co. and NEC. 

John O'Dell, Senior Editor

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