2003 Tokyo Motor Show, Part III Page 3

October 23, 2003

Subaru Turns Up The Battery Power

Subaru has dubbed its display at the 37th Tokyo Motor Show the Blue Cocoon, for

its blue lighting and deep blue background, which was used to show off three different concept vehicles — among them the B9 Scrambler, a sleek two-seater with a sequential hybrid power train that will get the equivalent of 48 miles per gallon with the space used for a conventional all-wheel-drive system. One of the keys to the system is a manganese lithium-ion battery that stores more energy longer than a nickel metal hydride battery. The B9 also serves as a design research vehicle. Subaru has been looking for a more modern version of the corporate grille and other front end features, and has been testing reaction with various recent prototypes. Given a positive reaction here in Tokyo and perhaps at the Detroit show in January, this could become the automaker's new "face."


Subaru R1e

Subaru R1e

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While known in the U.S. for all-wheel-drive products, such as the Outback, Subaru is one of Japan’s biggest small car manufacturers, and that's the segment it targeted with various concepts, such as this electric vehicle, dubbed the R1e. It’ s a four-seat, two-door commuter car that also draws its power from manganese lithium-ion battery, which can be recharged fairly quickly, and produces zero emissions. The car is described as environmentally friendly answer to the challenges of urban commuting.


Subaru B2

Subaru B2

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The third concept vehicle presented by Subaru was the R2, a four-door wagon-like vehicle that looks nearly ready for production and for sale in Asia where one-box vehicles are gaining popularity. The R2 features an electronically controlled throttle and a supercharged in-line four-cylinder engine and a continuously variable transmission for optimal fuel economy in a package that Subaru’s designers believe is both sporty and functional.

Subaru also showed off a prototype for Legacy Touring Wagon that features a seat that swivels making it easier for a passenger to get in and out of the seat.


Coming to a Dealer Near You

You’re not likely to find the UFE-II at your local dealer any time soon — even if you live in Japan. But a number of other Tokyo show cars will make the leap from concept to production in the not-too-distant future. As you’d expect, most will be bound for the U.S. market. The Subaru RS, for example, is expected to replace the aging Pleo minicar, but it’s simply too small for American tastes. U.S. buyers will see the Mazda Ibuki show up as the next-generation Miata, though the edgy styling should be toned down a bit before then. Mitsubishi’s Spyder show car gives a hint of what’s to come when Chrysler launches its next line of C-class passenger cars, which are being developed largely by the Asian automaker, a member of the DaimlerChrysler family. As their names suggest, one will see the Lexus Future Sedan, or LF-S, and Lexus Future Crossover, or LF-X, set the tone of models to come, while Nissan’s stylish Fuga is being touted as the shape of things to come at the Infiniti brand. And don’t be surprised to see Honda borrow many of the styling cues found in the curvaceous HSC sports car, perhaps to serve as a replacement for the Acura NSX.

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