The first Subaru hybrid will hit Australian roads within 12 months – though it will be years before customers can get behind the wheel.
Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior confirmed the local division planned to bring a Subaru XV Hybrid to Australia for testing and market research in 2014 following its successful launch in Japan earlier this year.
“The planning volume of the XV Hybrid was 500 per month and they’re doing 5000 per month, so that’s been hugely successful,” Senior said.
“I think I’m right in saying the top three cars in Japan are all hybrids… so it is a very different market but the XV’s had a fantastic reception.”
While declining to suggest when Subaru Australia could offer its first hybrid for sale, Senior suggested the brand had a long-term strategy for its introduction of electric-assisted vehicles.
“Short term, I still think there’s a relatively small market for hybrids here,” he said, “but nevertheless, we know what’s coming and we need to be in a position where in some point in time we’re going to see the switch to alternative fuels increase.”
Senior said next year’s XV Hybrid testing would include a number of Australia-specific conditions, including hot weather, dirt roads, and other challenging driving routes.
“There’s a standard process that we tick off X amount of elements before [introducing any new vehicle],” he revealed.
The Subaru XV Hybrid has just launched in the US priced from US$26,820 ($28,500), commanding a US$4000 ($4300) premium over the cheapest non-hybrid XV.
The Hybrid teams the standard XV’s 110kW/196Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder boxer engine with a 10kW/65Nm electric motor integrated into the car’s automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT), and a small nickel-metal-hydride battery pack.
According to US data, the XV Hybrid is between 12 and 15 per cent more fuel efficient than the conventional petrol-powered XV, which would translate to a combined cycle fuel consumption rating of approximately 6.0 litres per 100km in Australia, an improvement of around 1.0L/100km.
The Impreza-based XV is Subaru Australia’s second-most popular model behind the Forester, with 7828 sales so far this year.