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LA show: Subaru goes PHEV for the US

Plug-in Subaru to stay stateside, with Australia to start with standard hybrids

21 Nov 2018

SUBARU’S first plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), the Crosstrek Hybrid, has been ruled out for Australia, as it will be confined to the North American market once it is launched next week at the Los Angeles motor show.
Instead, Subaru Australia’s hybrid adventures are expected to start with a petrol-electric parallel hybrid Forester in the last quarter of next year, followed soon after by a similar version of the smaller XV SUV.
The Crosstrek – known as XV in Australia – is built on Subaru’s global modular platform that can accommodate internal combustion, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full electric powertrains.
Initially, the PHEV version will be restricted to a handful of US states that adopt California’s emissions rules, before being rolled out to a wide audience.
Dubbed StarDrive, the PHEV powertrain combines a 2.0-litre petrol boxer engine with two electric motors, a CVT transmission and all-wheel-drive system, setting it apart from sister company Toyota’s similar vehicles that share much of the same basic motor and battery technology.
One motor works as an engine starter while doubling as a generator powered by the engine to charge the lithium-ion battery. The second motor powers the vehicle while also recharging the battery under regenerative braking. 
Curiously, overall power is said to be 105kW – 10kW less than the standard 115kW 2.0-litre petrol XV sold in Australia. However, the PHEV Crosstrek is claimed to be one-second faster in the 0-100km/h dash (no acceleration figures are quoted in the press materials).
The Crosstrek Hybrid’s 8.8kWh battery is housed under the cargo area, providing sufficient power to cover 27km on a single charge that takes two hours on a 240-volt charger. Combined with petrol power, the vehicle is said to have a range of 772km on a full battery and a tank of petrol.
Fuel economy is rated the equivalent of 2.6 litres per 100km on the American test system.
Subaru Australia national corporate affairs manager David Rowley said Subaru had no plans to sell the PHEV Crosstrek/XV outside of North America – not even Japan.
“There’s no prospect of that car coming here in the foreseeable future,” he said. “As our managing director (Colin Christie) said at the Forester launch earlier this year, we will have a couple of hybrid models coming in the next couple of years.”
The first of these is expected to be a hybrid Forester in the fourth quarter of next year, followed by a hybrid XV. Neither of these are plug-in types, instead charging the battery with regenerative braking.
Globally, Subaru is also expected to offer an all-electric model in the next couple of years.

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