Subaru Adds Its First-Ever Hybrid, Based On The Subaru XV Crosstrek
NEW YORK — Subaru at long last unveiled its first gasoline-electric hybrid model at the New York International Auto Show, theSubaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid, expected to go on sale in October 2013 as a 2014 model.
The New York auto show opens to the public today, March 29, through April 7 at the Javits Center on the West Side of Manhattan.
The Subaru hybrid is long-awaited because the Subaru brand and ecology are a logical match. Subaru buyers tend to be an outdoorsy group, and it’s natural they would be interested in cutting down on tailpipe emissions.
However, Subaru hasn’t had a hybrid before now. It’s an understatement to call that “late to the party.”
Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. introduced the first Toyota Prius way back in 2000. Toyota is on its third generation of hybrids. Many other companies are on their second.
Tomohiko Ikeda, the head of global sales and marketing for Subaru parent company Fuji Heavy Industries in Japan, said in a press conference at the New York auto show that Subaru intends to make up for lost time.
“We have made electrification as a key feature for Subaru. The hybrid we unveil today is a first step in that direction,” he said.
Tom Doll, president of the U.S. sales and marketing subsidiary, Subaru of America, Cherry Hill, N.J., acknowledged Subaru is behind the curve in adding hybrids. “We at Subaru weren’t first to market, but we made sure we did it right,” he said.
Subaru engineered its own hybrid system, using a 2.0-liter Subaru “boxer” engine, an electric motor and a continuously variable transmission.
A boxer engine means instead of up-and-down, the cylinders move horizontally, and in opposing directions from each other – a configuration that Porsche also uses. A continuously variable transmission, usually called a CVT for short, uses belts and pulleys instead of gears. It helps save fuel.
The company didn’t release fuel economy figures. That should happen closer to the launch.
But Doll said the Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid is expected to be the most fuel-efficient crossover SUV with full-time all-wheel drive on the market. He said the conventionally powered Subaru XV Crosstrek is No. 1 today. With a CVT, the 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek has an EPA rating of 33 mpg on the highway.
“If you have to get beat,” Doll said. “It’s nice to get beat by one of your own.”