Future Car - Subaru

About Subaru

Subaru is the western spelling for the Japanese word for "Pleiades." This is readily apparent looking at the Subaru logo/badge. Subaru is a division of Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI) and the word Subaru itself means "to govern", "unite" or "gather together". Of the stars in the logo the largest represents FHI and the other five the companies FHI controls, including Subaru.

Of all the Japanese companies out there, Subaru is the most forthcoming and open about it's future plans for automobiles. In fact, it's almost astounding how many models, technologies, and concepts they are working and letting the press know about.

Currently, Toyota Motor Company owns a sixteen point five (16.5%) stake in FHI, which means that Toyota is using Subaru as a test bed for some of the advances that may make their way into the Toyota line. Toyota is also developing a line of rear wheel drive cars that are based on the Subaru Impreza platform.

Subaru Logo
Subaru Logo

Subaru Boxer Deisel

Subaru Turbo Diesel
Subaru Turbo Diesel

Current Subaru Technology

Unlike the other brands mentioned in the other six hubs, I'm covering current Subaru technology because it is so different than other car manufacturer technology.

Boxer Engine*: Subaru is currently one of the few manufacturers to use this engine layout. Where most internal combustion engines have the pistons and cylinders moving straight up and down, or in a "V" configuration, the boxer has the piston and cylinder arrangement at 180º angle to each other. Subaru currently manufactures a four (4) cylinder and six (6) cylinder version of this engine.

Advantages are that the engine configuration takes up less room (since it's essentially flat) and weighs less for the same amount of horsepower produced by an in-line or "V" configuration engine. Because the engine has a much more "slender" profile it can be mounted lower in the vehicle. This, in turn, lowers the center of gravity, saves much needed space in the engine compartment, and reduces the number of moving parts in the engine itself.

Subaru has advanced this engine design by introducing a turbocharged diesel version in 2007. This engine is a two (2) liter displacement producing one-hundred ten (110) kiloWatts or one-hundred forty-eight (148) horsepower with torque of two hundred sixty (260) foot-pounds.

This diesel is currently offered only in the Legacy sedan and Outback wagon in the European Union.

* The boxer configuration was invented by Karl Benz in 1896. Because the boxer design has a natural balance (since pairs of pistons are directly opposite each other) there is no need for counter balancing on the crank shaft or the addition of a crank-shaft damper. This reduces engine weight significantly. Boxer engines have been used by BMW (motorcycles), VW (early beetle), Citroën (2CV), Lancia (Flavia), Chevrolet (Corvair), Porshe (911), and Honda (Goldwing motorcycle).

Symmetrical All Wheel Drive: Currently, all Subaru vehicles sold in the United States feature full-time all wheel drive. The engineers at Subaru have managed to create this all-wheel drive system at minimal weight and horsepower cost by keeping the size of the "power take-off" differential to a very small size (and weight) and utilizing a novel approach to routing power from the engine to all four wheels.

Electric: In June 2006 Subaru marketed the Stella all electric vehicle in Japan. It features a Lithium Ion battery pack and has a range of fifty-six (56) miles. In Japan these are known as kei-cars. The experience gained with these vehicles will certainly be put in to practice in future vehicles around the world.

Environment: The company has instituted advanced environmental policies which include recycling and educating their employees.

The Lafayette, Indiana plant was the first auto assembly plant to achieve zero landfill status. Nothing from this plant ends up in a landfill. Subaru also developed a recycling plan for their cars at end of service life.

Most new vehicles use aluminium throughout, including in the engine, transmission, and suspension. These [arts can be recycled when the vehicle is no longer serviceable.

The recycling of aluminum takes seven (7%) percent of the energy required to produce billet aluminum from the raw mined ore.

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Subaru G4E All Electric. Will use Vanadium Lithium-Ion batteries and have a range of 125 miles.Subaru B-9 Scrambler Hybrid Coupe will be designed to be a sport off-road car with air suspension and special paint to protect against dings caused by flying rocks.Subaru B-5 Turbo Parallel HybridSubaru B-5 TPH. Two door wagon using TPH described at left.  Is this Subaru's answer to the  Nomad?The rear windows are part of the lift gate meaning "lift over" clearance will be lower than on some conventional wagon.
Subaru G4E All Electric. Will use Vanadium Lithium-Ion batteries and have a range of 125 miles.
Subaru G4E All Electric. Will use Vanadium Lithium-Ion batteries and have a range of 125 miles.
Subaru B-9 Scrambler Hybrid Coupe will be designed to be a sport off-road car with air suspension and special paint to protect against dings caused by flying rocks.
Subaru B-9 Scrambler Hybrid Coupe will be designed to be a sport off-road car with air suspension and special paint to protect against dings caused by flying rocks.
Subaru B-5 Turbo Parallel Hybrid
Subaru B-5 Turbo Parallel Hybrid
Subaru B-5 TPH. Two door wagon using TPH described at left.  Is this Subaru's answer to the  Nomad?
Subaru B-5 TPH. Two door wagon using TPH described at left. Is this Subaru's answer to the Nomad?
The rear windows are part of the lift gate meaning "lift over" clearance will be lower than on some conventional wagon.
The rear windows are part of the lift gate meaning "lift over" clearance will be lower than on some conventional wagon.

Future Subaru Technology

Turbo Parallel Hybrid (TPH):The following technologies make up this hybrid design.

Motor/Generator: A thin electric motor/generator is placed between the engine and torque converter of the transmission. By placing the motor here it is directly in-line with the drive shaft and, for this reason, is a much more efficient and space saving design. This, in turn, saves both space in the engine compartment and reduces weight.

Magnesium Lithium-ion batteries: These battery packs deliver instantaneous high-power, takes a quick recharge (ninety percent [90%] of charge in five minutes), and integrate built-in cooling to both extend the life of the battery and enhance it's safe operating temperature. As the battery cells are flat (not cylindrical) placement in the vehicle can be much more flexible.

Vanadium Lithium-ion batteries: These battery packs deliver instantaneous high-power, takes a quick recharge (eighty percent [80%] of charge in fifteen minutes). Vanadium can be used with or without Lithium. Batteries with Vanadium increase the life of the battery, can be left completely uncharged for extended periods of time without damage, and allow the batteries to be charged as they are in use. e.g. vanadium batteries can be simultaneously discharged and charged.

Capacitor Technology: Subaru is exploring utilizing electrical storage via lithium-ion capacitors instead of batteries. Since capacitors are lighter in weight and are not subject to the corrosive effects of acids (there are none) they should last considerably longer than a battery with the same storage capacity. This technology is currently under development.

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Subaru R1eSubaru R1e in Tokyo
Subaru R1e
Subaru R1e
Subaru R1e in Tokyo
Subaru R1e in Tokyo

Subaru R1E

The Subaru R1e is a battery-electric prototype minicar. The car is the joint developed of Tokyo Electric Power, the giant Japanese utility company and Subaru. There are ten (10) prototypes built which are undergoing active street testing by TEP.  TEP plans to field three thousand of these vehicles by 2009. The R1e has a range of 50 miles (80 km) and a top speed of 62 mph (100 km/h).

This is a two door, two seater based upon the Subaru R1 gas vehicle. Due to the incorporation of laminated lithium-ion batteries this vehicle has received keen interest from electric vehicle proponents.

The battery pack can achieve eighty (80%) percent of charge in as little as eight minutes using a special rapid charger or one hundred (100%) percent recharge in eight (8) hours. using a standard house-hold plug. NEC, the battery manufacturer, expects the batteries to last for ten (10) years or 144,000 miles (240,000 km). Tokyo Electric Power has also promised to support the vehicle with one hundred fifty (150) fast charging stations.

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Comments 11 comments

aqsaammad profile image

aqsaammad 5 years ago from Lahore

Diesel has a reputation in the United States. Most people still associate the fuel and engine type with big slow-moving trucks. We both know that's not true, but that's the perception. Also, diesel fuel is actually more per gallon than gasoline at the moment. So it's not the best choice for economic reasons, never mind performance.


LiamBean profile image

LiamBean 6 years ago from Los Angeles, Calilfornia Author

ID: Sorry I can't approve your comment because the name is an external link to a commercial site. But I've quoted your text here: "I'm really excited by the B-5 TPH. I like the styling, the fact that it's a two door "wagon" (reminiscent of the Chevy Nomad), and that it incorporates the Turbo Parallel Hybrid technology. It's a concept car though and it may not make it to market, though I hope it does."

I like it too. I like that the entire back half of the roof pivots up and that the car would look pretty cool without that section of the roof there at all. Parallel hybrid tech? Big plus!


LiamBean profile image

LiamBean 6 years ago from Los Angeles, Calilfornia Author

prototype testing: I can't approve your comment because the name is a link to an external commercial site. Sorry.

Diesel has a reputation in the United States. Most people still associate the fuel and engine type with big slow-moving trucks. We both know that's not true, but that's the perception. Also, diesel fuel is actually more per gallon than gasoline at the moment. So it's not the best choice for economic reasons, never mind performance.


LiamBean profile image

LiamBean 7 years ago from Los Angeles, Calilfornia Author

I've been surprised at how few are looking at capacitor technology too. It has many things going for it. Weight savings, no chemicals to deal with, and by many other measures, a much older, better understood technology.

I would think that the same breakthroughs that have been applied to battery technology (nano-technology) could be applied to capacitors to increase their storage while retaining the same overall dimensions.

The one other company using super-capacitor technology is Pininfarina, but there's so little written about this car I can't justify a hub about it.

Take a look.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pininfarina_B0


HarperSmith profile image

HarperSmith 7 years ago

Wow, alot of cool stuff here. I thought Subaru the using Capacitor Technology really neat, I have wonder why this has not been done before and I hope it work. The weight factor and fact that their isn't any acid should be a hugh advantage. Thanks again.


LiamBean profile image

LiamBean 7 years ago from Los Angeles, Calilfornia Author

Thanks ajayrocks. I didn't criticize the technology. Frankly, I'm astounded that the smallest of the big three* in Japan is the company doing the majority of the innovation.

* I got that wrong. They are number FOUR in Japan.


ajayrocks profile image

ajayrocks 7 years ago

The subaru is my favorite & it is very good to see that they are going to bring the advance technology that will be really beneficial but no need to criticize them about their technology!


LiamBean profile image

LiamBean 7 years ago from Los Angeles, Calilfornia Author

Ashley Joy: I'm not sure why either. However the WRX was one hot seller for a while and you still see them zipping around. They also did quite well with the Forrester series. The Tribeca flopped here and it has been discontinued. Too big and weird looking? Who knows.

I'm really excited by the B-5 TPH. I like the styling, the fact that it's a two door "wagon" (reminiscent of the Chevy Nomad), and that it incorporates the Turbo Parallel Hybrid technology. It's a concept car though and it may not make it to market, though I hope it does.


Ashley Joy profile image

Ashley Joy 7 years ago

Subarus are extremely popular cars in the ski towns of Colorado. They get good gas mileage, get around well in the snow, and are fairly roomy inside. They are doing something right, I am just a little confused on why they do not do better in other markets.


LiamBean profile image

LiamBean 7 years ago from Los Angeles, Calilfornia Author

EarnMate: I'm really impressed with the design of the Turbo Parallel Hybrid. This is the only car manufacturer who put the electric motor directly in line with the engine/transmission. Makes a LOT of sense to do it that way.

They are also the only manufacturer I've found using capacitor technology, though I don't know how far along they are on that.

I used to own a Justy. It was noisy on the freeway but got GREAT mileage.


EarnMate profile image

EarnMate 7 years ago from Bangkok, Thailand

Subaru is my first car. Though it's used car but I appreciate its performance so much.

However, today and the near future seem to be the world of EV or hybrid. I'm following how will it go.

Many thanks for sharing.

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