Subaru wants to borrow Toyota technology to build hybrids

Article by Anita Panait, on December 3, 2013

Subaru might borrow Toyota's hybrid technology as it bids to build high-mileage hybrid vehicles, according to Naoto Muto, executive vice president for global engineering at Subaru parent Fuji Heavy Industries. Subaru is rolling out its first hybrid, a version of the XV Crosstrek compact crossover, in the United States in early December.

Muto remarked that Subaru’s in-house hybrid technology is geared more towards sportier driving than fuel economy. The XV Crosstrek Hybrid returns a combined 31 mpg rating, just around 3 mpg better than the combined 28 mpg rating for the standard gasoline XV Crosstrek. It, however, lags behind than the combined 50 mpg of the Toyota Prius.

On the pricing side, the standard gasoline XV Crosstrek has a starting price of $22,820, including shipping, while the hybrid begins $4,000 higher. However, Subaru cannot just adopt Toyota's system without altering it to suit Subaru's all-wheel-drive layout.

Muto remarked that while they are considering how they can adapt Toyota's system into Subaru vehicles in the future, they cannot just use Toyota's hybrid system without doing any modification. Toyota holds a 16.5 percent stake in Fuji Heavy Industries.

When it comes to the 2014 XV Crosstrek Hybrid, Subaru revealed that the main inspiration came from the already popular XV Crosstrek crossover, first released in 2013. Being the first hybrid to come from the brand, it does not come as a surprise that it decided to use the vehicle platform of its go-anywhere crossover. Because of this, the XV Crosstrek Hybrid not only has the versatility of the XV Crosstrek but it also has its capability.

Since it is fitted with a hybrid powertrain, it means higher fuel efficiency which widens the appeal. One way of making this possible is that the XV Crosstrek Hybrid has the chassis capability and Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive of its gas-powered counterpart. Ground clearance for instance is 8.7 inches, the same as that of the XV Crosstek. While this allows for a low step-in height, this figure remains to be higher when compared to other dedicated SUVs.

Since a battery system meant additional weight, Subaru made sure to re-engineer that chassis for the XV Crosstrek Hybrid in order to manage it. This also results in improving the steering, ride, and handling. Aside from changes on the chassis, extra sound insulation was added as well. Further changes include the HVAC being revised and a new gauge cluster being fitted in.

A keyless start and the Start/Stop feature are just a few of the many new things one can experience in the new XV Crosstrek Hybrid. The 2014 XV Crosstrek Hybrid is scheduled to arrive during the fourth quarter of 2013 on Subaru dealerships. Once it officially goes on sale, it is expected to be an AWD hybrid crossover that will be the most fuel efficient as well as have the lowest of emissions in the U.S.

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