Subaru will bring the upcoming XV and Forester hybrid to the Australian market to meet the growing – yet still small – demand for alternative powertrains, as it begins the necessary steps to its electric future.
Speaking to CarAdvice at the New York motor show, local Subaru boss, Colin Christie, said hybrids remain a small portion of the Australian market, but demand is growing and Subaru needs to address that.
“It’s more than likely going to be on XV and Forester [for hybridisation],” Christie said.
“We don’t have exact dates and times, [also] not sure which tech will go into the cars, but Subaru has made it clear that they are moving down the hybridisation path and moving down the electric path.
“They have been talking about having fully electric vehicles in the early 2020s. I think it’s an absolute move in terms of environmental, fuel efficiency and economy [but] hybrids are still quite a small volume in the Australian market, but we see them as supplemental to our sales so we will have our 2.5-litre direct injection in case of the Forester, and then the hybrid will be an incremental model.”
It’s likely at some point in the near future, the Australian government will begin to mandate stricter CO2 regulations for the automotive sector to match those from the upcoming Euro7 emissions and ever-tightening CAFE laws in California.
The push will put more pressure on local manufacturers to bring alternative powertrains Down Under, though it remains hotly-debated whether the government will (or should) help incentivise such vehicles.
As for Subaru, Christie admitted hybrids coming to our market is, in part, due to the expected CO2 rule changes, but also a response to customer demand.
“[It’s a] combination. There are customers out there looking for hybrid vehicles more and more, still relatively small numbers but that will grow and we are seeing more demand increasing in some areas, but at the end of the day it’s a future tech story and a step towards electrification, and a natural step in the journey for the brand.”
Subaru offered a hybrid model in the previous-generation XV in other markets, but ruled it out for Australia.
The technology and ownership structure with Subaru and Toyota means the smaller brand will use technology and knowledge from its better-resourced partner for its hybridisation systems.
Would you be interested in hybrid models of the Subaru XV and Forester?