With hybrids all the rage, it seems that every company is rolling one onto a show stand or showroom floor in an attempt to change the face of energy consumption and transportation or some such blather. Subaru itself has gotten into the act with the B5-TPH concept. But the R1e (based on the tiny Japanese-market R1) isn't some run-of-the-mill hybrid clich: instead, it's an electrically powered clich that "has been designed to meet the needs of city mobility." As it requires none of that political (and literal) firestarter, gasoline, the R1e runs solely on the power provided by its lithium-ion battery, which is estimated to last ten to fifteen years and can achieve a 90 percent charge in five minutes. Subaru claims that charge will provide enough power for a daily commute (perhaps true if you walk to work) and also promises acceleration performance that surpasses gasoline-powered vehicles, although we suspect that group to consist only of riding lawn mowers and Volkswagen Microbuses. The R1e is scheduled for production this spring and will be available only in Japan. Early examples of the R1e are already plying Tokyo's crowded streets as they undergo final rounds of testing while serving as runabouts for--fittingly--the Tokyo Electric Power company.
Subscribe to the magazine and save up to 84% off the newsstand pricesubscribe