Subaru is showcasing an innovative plug-in vehicle, the STELLA, at Melbourne International Motor Show from 27 February.
The four-seat STELLA mini car can be recharged to 80 per cent of its 80 kilometre range in just 15 minutes.
It will soon go into limited production for sale on the Japanese domestic market later this year.
Amazingly, STELLA costs just 93 cents per 100 kilometres to run, if charged at off-peak rates, and $1.88 at peak rates – less than a reverse cycle air conditioner^, or the combined daily cost of running a fridge/freezer and hot water system^.
Despite it’s economy, STELLA is capable of a top speed of 100 km/h.
It is also remarkably clean. Based on power supplied from a coal-fired power station, STELLA produces an estimated 12.5 kilograms (kg) of Carbondioxide (CO2) per 100 kilometres of travel, compared to 20.24 kg of CO2 for a typical 2.0 litre small car.
Nick Senior, Managing Director, Subaru Australia, said: “STELLA gives us a glimpse into an automotive future that is not too far away.
“Fuji Heavy Industries, the maker of Subaru vehicles, has made a commitment to be a world leader in electric vehicles.
“The STELLA we have in Melbourne is the latest example of an increasingly efficient and sophisticated series of prototype cars.”
STELLA can be charged from empty to full range in eight hours, based on a 100 Volt outlet, or four hours at 200V.
STELLAs were used to transport VIPs at last year’s Hokkaido Toyako Summit of world leaders.
Four were used to transport government officials and other summit participants, while one was displayed at the Environmental Showcase, an exhibition and demonstration area in the International Media Centre.
FHI also provided one STELLA to the Japan Post group, for use in mail collection and delivery in the Toyako area during the summit.
The STELLA concept combines the EV system employed in the earlier R1e prototype with the conventional Subaru STELLA mini car body.
FHI is positioning plug-in vehicles as another viable solution for environmental preservation, and is accelerating its development work in this arena.
Plug-in STELLA specifications:
*Heating and cooling assumes home of 150m^2 with 2.4m ceilings. Assuming eight hours a day for a typical day.
^ Heating and cooling assumes home of 150m^2 with 2.4m ceilings. Assuming four hours a day for a typical day.
All household items derived from "Operating costs of electrical appliances" by Sustainability Victoria
Subaru electric vehicle backgrounder
Automotive innovation – electric car leader
In September 2005, Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (FHI), the maker of Subaru vehicles, and Tokyo Electric Power Co., Inc. (TEPCO) announced joint development of an electric vehicle (EV), the R1e.
The companies spent a year designing and manufacturing the R1e for commercial use.
The R1e employs state-of-the-art, fast-charge lithium ion battery technology that eliminates typical lithium ion (Li-Ion) issues of charge memory loss - allowing partial and quick charges that do not decrease battery life.
The two-seat R1e is capable of speeds up to 104 km/h, with a range of up to 80 kilometres making it an ideal urban commuter.
It can be recharged to 80 per cent capacity in only 15 minutes, using “quickcharge” technology.
The R1e can also be fully charged overnight (eight hours) while connected to a standard household electrical outlet. It uses an AC permanent magnet synchronized motor, producing 40 Kilowatts.
FHI initially developed and manufactured 10 prototype R1es.
Real world experience
TEPCO has used R1es since June 2006, mainly for carriage of small cargo, as part of its business and service fleet, examining their performance and economic benefits.
Carbon dioxide emissions in the transportation industry increased in Japan by 19.8 per cent during the fiscal year ending March 31, 2004, compared to 1991. It was therefore regarded as an urgent issue industry-wide – and has remained so ever since.
TEPCO has a large petrol fleet and the company has set goals to reduce fuel consumption and introduce low-emission vehicles. It is studying the possibility of switching part of its fleet of approximately 8300 vehicles to EVs.
This could involve up to 3000 vehicles that are currently compact petrol engine cars of 1500cc or less - reducing annual CO2 emissions by 2800 tons and cutting yearly fuel costs by 190 million yen.
The EV project represents significant cooperation between FHI and TEPCO, which has strengths in developing electric charging systems for EVs. TEPCO is developing and refining the rapid electric charger.
FHI plans to manufacture and market EVs by further improving Li-Ion batteries. It is in charge of producing the R1e, which meets TEPCO specifications. These include fitting the size of Japan’s popular mini-cars, as well as an 80 kilometre driving range per day.
Following delivery of the R1es, FHI has monitored the daily use performance data, plus economic benefits collected and analyzed by TEPCO. FHI also examines optimal battery capacity and continues to develop lighter weight, lower cost EVs.
FHI sees the corporate fleet vehicle market a promising growth area for EVs.
By understanding TEPCO’s vehicle needs and accumulating additional know-how, FHI will continue improving EVs, aiming to market them to other companies, expanding usage.
A total of 40 R1es have now been used by TEPCO, and also by the Kanagawa Prefectural Government, providing performance results that further advance FHI’s EV development work.
New York Power Authority
In March 2008, Subaru announced that it would begin evaluating the R1e in the United States.
As part of a U.S. test program, two R1es joined the New York Power Authority (NYPA) fleet.
“Subaru’s goal is to become the leading brand in the electric vehicle market,” said Ikuo Mori, president, Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd.
“The R1e is an example of today’s cutting edge battery technology, while the Subaru G4e Concept Car shows a glimpse into the future of electric cars.”
The next step
FHI will place an additional 100 electric vehicles for test marketing in Japan in 2009.
The company is focusing on development of new battery technology for future power train applications.
Compared with nickel metal hydride or nickel-hydrogen battery technology, lithium-ion battery technology offers several advantages, including easier packaging, higher power density and better cooling, for longer life.
Service life for the high-density lithium-ion battery is estimated at 10 years and 160,000 kilometres.
The battery pack is also designed for easy recycling. The laminated battery packs are flat, rather than cylindrical, offering EV manufacturers wide latitude in vehicle design and packaging.
The battery’s basic design and composition consist of laminate, manganese, and lithium ion.
Major specifications of the R1e:
Joint development work responsibility:
Cooperation by NEC Lamillion Energy Co., Ltd. (51 per cent owned by NEC, 49 per cent by FHI):
FHI electric innovation – other models
Subaru G4e Concept
In October 2007, FHI revealed its latest electric concept, the Subaru G4e, at the Tokyo Motor Show.
This five-seater featured batteries stored underneath the floor.
FHI expects this EV to be able to travel 200 kilometres per charge, thanks to the adoption of high-performance next-generation lithium-ion batteries and reduced body weight.
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