for ‘Turbo Parallel Hybrid’, to be
displayed at Tokyo.
6th October 2005.
It doesn't take exceptional powers to
imagine the difference this 39th Tokyo motor show will
make in Subaru's recent history.
From a Japanese brand fifth-owned by
General Motors, Subaru,
the automotive arm of Fuji Heavy Industries group, will
pass to Toyota
Two weeks before the opening of the
39th Tokyo motor show (Public days from 22 October to 6
agreed yesterday to buy 8.7% of Subaru
from GM (for US$315 million), while GM announced that it
will end its alliance with Subaru and sell its remaining
11.4 % stake.
General Motors, the world's biggest car
manufacturer (bought its 20% stake in Subaru in 2000 for
US$ 1.4 billion), is under pressure from many sides:
declining sales, heavy liabilities in pensions and health
care costs, other liabilities from a potential Delphi
bankruptcy risk. Delphi, ranked No. 2 on the Automotive
News list of the top 100 global suppliers in 2004, was
spun-off GM in 1999, but stayed heavily dependent on GM
business, and its workers kept the same wages and benefits
as GM's union workers (suppliers wages are normally lower
than those paid by car manufacturers). Delphi and the UAW
(United Auto Workers) want GM to take back up to 7,000
its battery charges to 95 per cent of its
capacity in five minutes.
what Subaru is leaving.
Toyota, the world's number two car
manufacturer for the moment, and probably number one by
end 2006 or 2007, looks certainly a more stable and
"natural" ally for Subaru, and not simply
because both are Japanese, as this element counts less and
less in the modern global world. Toyota and other Asian
and European groups build cars in North America just like
GM and Ford own European and Asian brands. On top of that,
most companies experience ups and downs at certain times
of their history.
But instead of serving as one of GM
brands, handing two models for use by another GM affiliate
(the Subaru Impreza is the basis of Saab's 9-2X, but the
new Subaru B9 Tribeca
will not be the basis for a Saab 9-6X, as was planned
before), and under constantly changing strategies, Subaru
should get a more stable and specific role within the new
group of brands which includes Toyota,
Lexus (luxury specialist), Daihatsu
(compact to minicar, Toyota
owns 51% of Daihatsu) and Scion
(new brand in the US for the youth market), plus truck
Most important, Subaru has its own
distinguished technical identity: it is reputed for its
all-wheel-drive technology (one of the first to offer it
in regular cars, not just in SUVs) and
horizontally-opposed-cylinder engines (known as well as
boxer or flat engine), which are not just more sporty than
the usual vertical-cylinder ones, but offer lower gravity
centre and better stability.
That leads us now to Subaru's displays
at the coming Tokyo auto show.
The Symmetrical all-wheel drive
specialist will display a high-powered concept car which
is also an environmentally-conscious hybrid.
Called the B5-TPH, for ‘Turbo
Parallel Hybrid’, the three-door Subaru coupe combines a
260 PS 2.0 litre ‘boxer’ engine with an electric
generator/motor fitted between the engine and
This provides a low-cost solution to
giving lively acceleration and a high top speed but with
reasonable fuel consumption and low exhaust emissions.
The four-cylinder horizontally-opposed
petrol engine features a Miller Cycle system which
improves engine efficiency by reducing pumping losses
thanks to a combustion expansion stroke that is longer
than the compression stroke.
Normally this system makes an engine
sluggish at low speeds but thanks to the electric motor,
standing-start torque is boosted beyond even an Impreza
The electric motor itself produces 10
kW and 150 Nm torque while the petrol engine has a 191 kW
output with 343 Nm torque.
A new type of manganese lithium ion
battery charges to 95 per cent capacity in five minutes
and operates not just in city driving but also when
The design of the Subaru B5-TPH itself
features smooth contours and a large tailgate, hinged just
behind the B-post.
theme combines the practicality of a hatchback, fun of a
coupe and all-terrain ability of a SUV,
complete with a 200 mm ground clearance.
full-time symmetrical all-wheel drive and
low-centre-of-gravity ‘boxer’ engine ensures agile
But while the B5-TPH continues the
theme of previous concept cars such as the B11S and B9
Scrambler, the concept is not meant to hint at any future
On the other hand, the latest changes
in Subaru's shareholding do not need many hints to its new
potential with Toyota.