Subaru's XV Hybrid ruled out for Oz

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A lean, green hybrid variant of Subaru's XV crossover SUV has gone on sale in Japan, but it's a remote prospect for Australia, says David Rowley, National Corporate Affairs Manager for the importer. 

"I've learned to say 'never say never', but it's not on the horizon," he told yesterday. 

The XV Hybrid features an electric motor located between the internal-combustion engine and the leading pulley of the standard continuously variable transmission (CVT), which is based on the standard Lineartronic system developed for conventional Subaru models. 

Power for the electric motor is derived from a high-voltage battery situated below the luggage compartment, ensuring the weight distribution for the hybrid model approaches that of the conventional XV. By driving through the CVT the electric motor's torque is channelled to all four wheels, enhancing power delivery and straight-line performance.

Subaru's first attempt at a mass-market hybrid uses around 5.0L/100km, the company claims. 

But Rowley argues there's simply no need for the hybrid in Australia when the conventional XV is already fuel-efficient enough, and without the premium purchase price the hybrid would attract. 

"XV was the first in its class to have auto-stop/start right across the range. We are conscious of the need for efficiency – and that was one of the reasons we put auto-stop/start in XV, as a standard feature."

So what about a diesel variant of the Impreza-based SUV then, if the hybrid's a non-starter?

"We talk to the factory about diesel applications all the time," the Subaru spokesman said with a laugh, but offered no further word on the prospect of diesel power for one of the company's local success stories. In year to date sales for 2013 the Subaru XV has only been outsold by the Forester – 4441 for the XV, versus 5897 for the Forester. 

Not quite two years ago, Nick Senior, Subaru Australia MD, all but ruled out a diesel-powered Impreza for the local market, but left the door open for a diesel variant of the XV, which was yet to be released at the time. A little over 12 months ago, Senior described a diesel variant for the XV range as being on his "wishlist".

For the moment there's nothing more to add, but a diesel XV may be closer than we anticipate. Supply will likely play a part in its introduction to Australia, whenever that may be – if ever.

It's understood the manufacturer is grappling with global demand for existing products, let alone new ones. American demand last month drove Subaru to announce expansion of its US plant in Lafayette, Indiana. Currently that plant builds Tribeca, Legacy (Liberty) and Outback models, but will commence production of the Impreza from 2016. 

Lack of production capacity was worsened by the Japanese tsunami in March of 2011. And apparently Subaru's launch cycle for new product only normalised during the early months of this year – nearly two years after the natural disaster. Does all that mean new model development has been held back while Subaru looks at ways of ramping up production? 

No, replies Rowley.

"They put a significant resource into research and development, and next generation vehicles – as does every brand," says the Subaru exec. "But as for their ability to meet specific demands for, say, an XV diesel for a market like ours, that's not always achievable in short order."


MRT Power Kit upgrades for the Subaru XV can be found here.

Dyno data for this model is available at this link.


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