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The Mercury Cars Guide : February 28th 2009
8— CARSguide And then there were three . . . PAUL GOVER SUBARU has just joined Mitsubishi and Smart in the push to put effective, affordable plug-in electric cars on Australian roads. It is using its stumpy Stella city car as the teaser, with preview drives and a high-profile appearance at the Melbourne Motor Show so people willknowit is serious about effective battery-powered green cars. Mitsubishi and Smart are pushing hard to have their carsonsale in 2010 but Subaru is taking things slower and there is no firm timetable yet for the Stella, or the plug-in cars to follow it. According to Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior the move is very much a long-term project. ‘‘Subaru will have an electric car onsale in Japan this year but it won’t come here in the short to medium term,’’ Mr Senior said. ‘‘It’s a domestic program for Sub- aru at this stage. ‘‘They are telling us it is very, very low volume to start.' Even so, Subaru Australia wants people to know it has the technology to compete with the plug-in leaders and that the Stella—even thought it looks like a tiny box with a battery— is a genuine runner. ‘‘It’s an electric car; it’s the future,' Mr Senior said. ‘‘We are going to be one of the first companies in the world with an electric car on sale. ‘‘We have brought the car here to show what is possible; there are challenges involved, but it’s here and it’s driveable.’’ Subaru planned a huge test drive program but was reigned-in by the Department of Transport and Road Safety, which ruled the single Stella could not be driven on public roads. Instead, the first drives in Austra- lia were restricted to a go-kart track in Melbourne. Mr Senior said Subaru was al- ready working on a business plan but was struggling to make the numbers work, at least for the Stella. ‘‘We wouldn’t even consider it at this stage,’’ he said. ‘‘The cost would be prohibitive. ‘‘One of the biggest issues in the short-term with these cars is that they are going to be expensive.’’ But he believes Subaru, which is working on exclusive battery tech- nology, is pushing ahead quickly on plug-in technology. ‘‘We need longer travel times and shorter charge times,’’ he said. ‘‘This does only 80km between recharges.’’ Mr Senior is only prepared to admit to long-term goals with the Stella but said he believed it would lead to serious Subaru electric cars. ‘‘Basically, if you turn off your fridge in the kitchen you can run the Stella,’’ he says. ‘‘But I wouldn’t expect to see anything serious on sale before the middle of the next decade,’’ he said. ‘‘There is a lot to be done to make it viable, starting with the charging infrastructure as well. ‘‘But the industry is proud of meeting the challenges over the past 10 years on a range of fronts and it is responsive and aware of all the electric car issues. We’ll get there.’’ STELLA PERFORMER: The 2009 Subaru Stella plug-in electric car. Classifieds 62 300 400 • carsguide.com.au Saturday, February 28, 2009 BEAT THE MARCH PRICE RISE. NEW RENAULT KOLEOS FROM $29,990* Order now for the best deal on a Koleos. 2.5L petrol engine 6-speed manual ESP + 6 Airbags Auto lights and wipers 17" Alloy wheels Dual zone climate control Cruise control with speed limiter ABS (with Electronic Brake Distribution and Emergency Brake Assist) Metallic paint shown available at extra $800 For this great price, hurry to your nearest Renault dealer. For more information visit renault.com.au *RRP for 4x2 petrol Dynamique 6-speed manual plus $975.00 stamp duty, $1,695.00 dealer delivery, $538.00 registration and compulsory third party insurance. REN1489/HM CAPITOL MOTORS 221 Elizabeth Street, Hobart, Tasmania Tel: 03 6234 7799 Fax: 03 6234 9182.
February 21st 2009
March 7th 2009