Subaru's Stella electric car concept

Subaru has announced a follow-up to its "so cute you want to pinch its cheeks" R1e electric mini-car, a concept built on the boxy Stella city car.

Subaru has announced a follow-up to its "so cute you want to pinch its cheeks" R1e electric mini-car, a concept built on the boxy Stella city car.

The earlier R1e at Times Square, New York City, and the electric Stella concept (inset)

The electric Stella concept uses a 40-kilowatt electric motor powered by lithium-ion batteries, which are recharged via mains power. This powertrain gives the electric Stella a maximum speed of 100km/h and a range of about 80km on a full charge.

Subaru's Stella is a four-seat "kei-car" sold primarily in Japan. To qualify as a kei-car, a car must be under a specified size (3.4 metres long, 1.48 metres wide and 2 metres tall) and have an engine no larger than 660cc with a maximum power rating of 47kW. Kei-cars have been all the rage in Japan for over a decade, thanks in part to the tax and insurance breaks that they receive.

Compared to its predecessor, the R1e, the Stella loses in the looks department. However, its boxy five-door hatch body means that it should be more practical than the Alfa-esque three-door R1e. As such, four electric Stella concepts will ferry dignitaries around at the G8 summit in Hokkaido Toyako this July, while another one will be used by Japan Post to deliver mail around Toyako during the summit. This real-world test is similar to the deal Subaru made to provide two R1es to the New York Power Authority.

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