By on March 29, 2013

Subaru’s first hybrid car won’t use the lithium-ion batteries that are now commonplace in many current alternative powertrains. Instead, the XV Crosstrek Hybrid will use nickel-metal hydride units, which were used mainly in older hybrid systems. The 2.0L boxer 4-cylinder engine is mated to a 13.4 horsepower electric motor, but the added 300 lbs of weight means fuel economy is raised only slightly, at 28/34 mpg city/highway. Meanwhile, the EPA lists the standard car at 25/33 mpg with the CVT automatic.

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22 Comments on “Subaru Uses Nickel-Metal Hydride On XV Crosstrek Hybrid...”


  • avatar
    Power6

    Huh hardly seems worth it, city is where hybrid shines and they got 3 MPG more. 28 is just not impressive for a hybrid compact crossover. Huge Subaru fan but it seems they are not the place to look for innovation, they make cheap cars with well established technology whereas they used to seem a bit more advanced. Maybe the hybrid option will be very inexpensive.

    • 0 avatar
      Thinkin...

      Especially since you could just just buy the otherwise-identical-but-for-height Impreza Wagon which gets better gas mileage than both at 27 city, 36 highway. Funny that a 300# hybrid system can’t even make up for the aerodynamic disadvantages of a 2″ gain in ground clearance.

      • 0 avatar
        Power6

        They should have made the regular Impreza a hybrid, not that they couldn’t easily do that since it is essentially the same car, perhaps they would have hit 30/40 or better EPA MPG which would have been more impressive.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I’m not sure exactly where the advantage in this is, but if they end up selling, more power to Subaru, I suppose…

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    If the hybrid option costs more than say $500, you will probably never recoup it in gas savings over the life of the car.

    • 0 avatar
      sitting@home

      But if the Hybrid badge gets you a free ride in the HOV lanes then you might save an hour commute each day, with the gas savings from not idling the engine for that hour, even if the EPA numbers are identical.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Are you sure Toyota and Ford have stopped using reliable, durable, safe nickel-metal hydride batteries in all of their non-plug-in hybrids? The primary reason they’re not used in plug-in hybrids as well is the licensing agreement established when GM sold the patent to Texaco, which was acquired by Chevron. Previously, Toyota also used them in the pure-EV RAV4s to good effect.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Toyota is still using NiMH batteries in the Prius.

      The reason they’re using lithium ion batteries in the plugin Prius is because they can put a bigger battery in roughly the same battery compartment.

      The NiMH battery in my Prius is a reliable workhorse. But it’s a high C, low capacity battery.

      If you want to look for conspiracy theories, the place to look is the battery warranty rule. In the USA, hybrid and EV batteries are required to carry an 8 year warranty. When you buy a regular Prius in Japan, you can order one with either a lithium or NiMH battery – but in the US, you can only get NiMH (unless you buy the plugin Prius). This is because Toyota is confident in their 15 year old NiMH battery design, but not so sure about the Lithium batteries – so they’re doing a slow launch of the lithium battery Prii in the US.

      Also, if you test drive a Prius V, you’ll probably notice that the back seats are designed to accommodate the 3rd row, bit none is available. This is because the NiMH battery (only option in the USA) takes up the space that the rumble seat would occupy. You can get a 3-row Prius V in Japan, but it only comes with the lithium ion battery (which is partially located in the armrest between the driver and passenger seats IIRC).

      I’m a screaming electric car hippie, but I don’t see any evidence of a conspiracy related to the suppression of NiMH battery technology. The engineering issues are both fascinating and sufficient to explain why a particular technology was chosen in particular vehicles.

      That’s not to say that the car companies weren’t lobbying like hell to remove California’s alternative fuel mandate. That happened. The car companies won, and got to maintain the status quo a little longer. It’s politics as usual, even if I happen to think the could have solved some big problems earlier if they’d kept at it. But I’m not a resident of California, so it wasn’t my fight to win or lose. And California is the only state crazy enough to even try something like that!

      • 0 avatar
        spw

        you cant pick between nimh and lion prius… you can pick between 5 and 7 seater Prius v, 5 has nimh and 7 has lion. I would guess the reason 7 seater isnt sold in USA is due to price and fact that 3rd row is not big enough for size of average american unlike in Japan :-).

        article is wrong in suggesting that 300lbs is due to batteries, i doubt difference between putting lion would have been more than 20-30lbs, as seen in other examples where nimh Toyota’s are lighter and have more boot than lion competitors.

        it is a missed chance for Subaru that they went on with their low tech hybrid instead of getting HSD from their part-owner… i bet MPG would have been 5-6 more, easily.

    • 0 avatar
      AFX

      I did a little bit of reading on that before and its an interesting story.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patent_encumbrance_of_large_automotive_NiMH_batteries

      Looks like Cobasys was sold of to a joint venture between Samsung and Bosch called SB LiMotive, and the SB LiMotive joint venture was disbanded last September.

      http://naatbatt.org/uploads/Bosch-press-release-re-SM-LiMotive-Sept-6-2012.pdf

  • avatar
    noxioux

    Well, if you’re going to have an empty gesture in your stable, you might as well make it as empty as possible. What a waste of time and energy.

  • avatar
    harshciygar

    Easily the most disappointing reveal of the show.

  • avatar
    segfault

    Sounds like a mild hybrid. This is a product which answers a question nobody is asking. Sounds like something GM would do.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    It’s easier and cheaper to implement for what few details have emerged, is going to be a mild hybrid system. I think this car is more of an exercise of a small niche, for a really small car company to fill.

  • avatar

    So? You know it is Toyota-approved.

  • avatar
    Turkina

    This gives me a sad. They should just bring over start/stop from their overseas models and not make a hybrid with a near-useless advantage.

  • avatar
    seabrjim

    I have a 2012 Impreza wagon that routinely gets 36 to 37.5 at 55 and 33 at 70. Its a great car for the money, comfy seats good ergos and all. For a few inches I wouldn’t even consider the hybrid. Kinda useless if you ask me.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      So this is a full on Hybrid that has efficiency gains right up there with the GM “Soft Hybrids” from back in the day. Put this in the “why bother” file.

  • avatar
    mik101

    Based on the numbers alone I’d say someone licensed a little something from Honda.

    • 0 avatar
      AFX

      At a whopping 13.4 horesepower it’s probably the starter motor from one of their motorcycles, or an electric window motor from a Fit.

      For that kind of a mileage gain you could probably do better by making a Yugo hybrid with a cordless drill driving the spedometer cable back through the transmission.

  • avatar

    Whenever I read about Nickle Metal Hydride batteries, I can’t help but think about creepy, hyper-intelligent rats.


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