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Subaru To Tap Toyota Expertise For 2012 Hybrid

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Subaru is looking to Toyota for assistance in developing a new gasoline-electric hybrid model that will be launched by 2012, according to remarks from Fuji Heavy Industries president Ikuo Mori, at the launch of the new Subaru Legacy in Japan.

Based on early reports, it isn't altogether clear which Toyota platform, or which specific version of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive, would be employed in the new vehicle, but since meeting the tougher fuel-efficiency and emissions regulations is an issue, TheCarConnection.com points to the Prius as the most likely candidate.

Although Subaru hasn’t sold any hybrids yet, the company has been working with electrification for many years, showing several small electric concepts and prototypes, and at one time working on a sporty hybrid version of the Legacy. The lukewarm reception of the Honda Accord Hybrid, also tuned to be more of a performance hybrid, likely had something to do with the decision not to bring that model to market.

Toyota currently owns a 16-percent stake in Fuji Heavy Industries, which is the parent company of Subaru. The two automakers were collaborating on the development of a sports car that has now, according to various reports, been put on hold.

Subaru also plans to expand its diesel offerings, noted Mori. However it's more likely that we'll see the hybrid model first as the automaker's diesel line that's been sold in Europe now for some time still hasn't made it Stateside. Subaru hasn’t sold its smallest, most fuel-efficient models in the U.S. for many years, and its completely all-wheel-drive lineup places it at a slight disadvantage with respect to the upcoming fuel-economy rules. Now almost forgotten, the three-cylinder Justy hatchback, which was discontinued from the U.S. after 1994, earned a strong reputation for reliability, longevity, and impressive fuel economy.

[Wall Street Journal (sub req'd), Bloomberg]

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