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Subaru s Electric Car On Sale Next Year

By: François Raymond Date: Friday 4 January 2008


In many ways, mass volume electric cars are closer to reality than many people might

Subaru will be selling the R1e through its Japanese retail vendors starting next year. (Photo: Subaru)

think. Although the Chevrolet Volt is still years away (although more of a reverse hybrid than a true EV) and another EV candidate, the Pininfarina-Bollaré isn t expected until 2010, Tesla has been producing and selling a full electric vehicle for some time now, and other more mainstream automakers are working full steam ahead to produce pure electric cars before the end of the decade.

Japanese automakers have leapt aboard the electric car bandwagon, thanks in part to partnerships with electric power companies for assistance and research, an arrangement that benefits both sides. Automakers gain information about how their EV prototype vehicles perform in real life use, while the power companies invest and conduct RandD in creating a viable infrastructure for recharging automobiles, and in the end selling electricity. It s somewhat along the lines of what automakers here in North America are doing with regards to hydrogen and fuel cell vehicles (eg.

GM s Project Driveway).

The brand that s just recently announced an electric vehicle available for

RandD with an electric company has played a significant role in the R1e s development. (Photo: Subaru)

purchase might be a bit of a surprise candidate. Subaru, best known for their quirky all wheel drive vehicles will be selling a pure electric vehicle microcar by 2009 called the R1e, a vehicle that it has developed with the Tokyo Electric Power Company. In the area that the TEPC operates, there are currently (no pun intended) 150 high-voltage charging stations for electric cars, with plans to expand.

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The underlying specifications of the R1e include an electric motor that produces the equivalent of 54 horsepower, which is about the same as what the regular gas-powered R1 makes. Its battery pack affords the car a small-ish range of 50 miles, but the car can be recharged to 80-percent capacity in just eight minutes. A full charge takes about six hours. Despite the low range, Subaru says that the car has

Subaru only hopes to sell 100 units per year at the beginning, with more to come. (Photo: Subaru)

a lifespan of about 120,000 miles or ten years.

As of right now, a price has yet to be set for the R1e, although we re guessing that it won t be particularly affordable at the outset; in fact, compared to its fossil fuel-powered rivals in the Kei car category, it ll probably be downright expensive. Subaru isn t being overly optimistic about the EV s take-rate either, so for its first year only 100 units will be produced. To help promote electric vehicles, the Japanese government has agreed to slash the car tax and sales tax by a whopping 90-percent, and will allow the car to park in public areas and travel on toll routes at a reduced rate.

Like all new technologies, prices are expected to drop as time passes. In about four years, Subaru predicts that the EV market will have progressed sufficiently to allow the R1e to sell for the equivalent of $17,500, and perhaps a decade later, the price of such technology would allow the car to be sold for $13,100. Subaru is also planning to license its EV technology to other manufacturers.

Source: by Justin Couture

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