Ongoing Efforts in Applying Electric Car Technology in Real World Situations

Subaru today announced that it would begin evaluating its R1e electric vehicle (EV) in the United States this summer. The Subaru R1e will be on display at the New York International Auto Show, from March 21-30 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center.

Based on the Subaru R1 minicar sold in Japan, the R1e was developed by Subaru in partnership with the Tokyo Electric Power Company, Inc. (TEPCO). The utility has been testing a fleet of R1e electric cars since 2006. As part of a U.S. test program, two of the Subaru R1e electric cars will join the New York Power Authority (NYPA) fleet.

The least polluting form of transportation available today is electric vehicles. Electric vehicles can also operate very economically and at the same time using no or very little petroleum fuel. “Zero emission vehicles” are sometimes used to refer to battery-operated electric vehicles. Battery-operated electric vehicles do not directly pollute through fuel evaporation, fuel refining or tailpipe emissions. However, a certain amount of pollution is associated with the use of battery-operated electric vehicles comes in the form of power plant emissions.

The pollution levels of these battery-operated electric vehicles remain extremely low even when these emissions are taken into account. This is due to the fact that the generators and motors used in electric vehicles are much more efficient than the powertrains of internal combustion engines.

"This new partnership with the New York Power Authority is further demonstration of Subaru's ongoing efforts in applying electric car technology in real world situations. Along with our newly introduced diesel powered cars, electric cars are a viable response to our need to improve fuel consumption and carbon output," said Tim Mahoney, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Subaru of America, Inc. "The R1e electrical vehicles are designed for city dwellers looking for an environmentally friendly and fun to drive alternative to gas powered cars."

"This joint venture with Subaru builds on the New York Power Authority's extensive involvement with clean transportation and gives us the opportunity to offer the latest in electric drive technologies to our customers," Roger B. Kelley, president and chief executive officer, New York Power Authority.

The Subaru R1e employs state-of-the-art, fast-charge lithium ion battery technology that eliminates typical lithium ion battery issues of charge memory loss, allowing partial charges and quick charges that do not decrease battery life. The two-seat Subaru R1e is capable of driving at speeds up to 65 mph with a range of up to 50 miles, making it an ideal urban commuter. The Subaru R1e can be "quick-charged" to 80 percent capacity in only 15 minutes using quick-charge technology. The vehicle can be fully charged overnight (eight hours) while connected to a standard household electrical outlet. The R1e uses an AC permanent magnet synchronized motor producing 40 kW.

"Subaru's goal is to become the leading brand in the electric vehicle market," said Ikuo Mori, president, Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. "The R1e is an example of today's cutting edge battery technology, while the Subaru G4e Concept Car shows a glimpse into the future of electric cars."

There are currently 40 Subaru R1e vehicles in use and Subaru parent Fuji Heavy Industries will place an additional 100 electric vehicles for test marketing in Japan in 2009. Subaru is focusing on the development of new battery technology for future power train applications. Compared with nickel metal hydride or nickel-hydrogen battery technology, lithium-ion battery technology offers a number of advantages, among them easier packaging, higher power density and better cooling for longer life.

Service life for the high-density lithium-ion battery is estimated at 10 years and 100,000 miles, another environmental benefit of Subaru technology. The battery pack is also designed to be easily recycled. The laminated battery packs are flat, rather than cylindrical, offering EV manufacturers wide latitude in vehicle design and packaging. The battery's basic design and composition consist of laminate, manganese, and lithium ion.

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