As so many of its competitors prepare to bring out vehicles with alternative power trains, Subaru has a major disadvantage. Its small size means it is a laggard in green technology.
There has been talk of a diesel based on the Subaru-developed, 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel sold in Europe. But the bigger questions are what kind of hybrid or pure electric technology will Subaru offer in the next decade, and when will it arrive?
Toyota holds the key. Toyota owns 16.8 percent of Fuji Heavy Industries, which builds Subaru vehicles. Toyota is working with Fuji Heavy on a hybrid system that executives say may be available by 2012. Details have not been disclosed.
"Neither the hybrid or diesel are committed," said a spokesman for Subaru of America. "We have not announced their status."
There are no plans to sell Subaru's subcompact cars in the United States. And there are no longer any plans for a premium sedan--an idea Subaru kicked around at the start of the decade. Instead, the automaker will concentrate on value, offering lots of standard features with each model.
Here are Subaru's plans.
Sports car: Last month, Toyota Motors President Akio Toyoda said an affordable sports car will be sold here in several years. The car is likely be a 2+2 or a four-seat coupe with rear-wheel drive -- a departure for Subaru, which is developing the vehicles with Toyota.
Forester: Subaru's recession-defying sales are primarily because of the Forester. Subaru won't tamper with the crossover until a freshening in the 2012 or 2013 model year.
Impreza: The compact sedan and five-door models are freshened for the 2010 model year. The Impreza, WRX and high-performance STI are expected to be restyled for the 2012 model year.
Outback, Legacy: The Legacy sedan and Outback wagon were redesigned for the 2010 model year. The Legacy went on sale in July and the Outback this month.
The power train offerings now include a continuously variable transmission, a six-speed manual gearbox, and a 3.6-liter six-cylinder Boxer engine producing 256 hp.
The Legacy's wheelbase is 3.2 inches longer than its predecessor and 3.6 inches wider. The overall length increased 1.4 inches. The Outback's wheelbase is stretched 2.8 inches and it is two inches wider. The Outback is fractionally shorter than the previous model.
No significant changes are planned until the 2014 model year.
Tribeca: Subaru's slowest-selling model is offered only as a seven-seater for the 2010 model year. The company is dropping the entry-level five-seat version of the crossover.
Subaru has struggled with the quirky Tribeca since its launch in 2007. The automaker has changed the front styling, engine and interior, but to no avail. The Tribeca is due for a freshening in the 2011 model year.
(Source: Automotive News)