First drive Subaru Stella electric car |

22 May 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on First drive Subaru Stella electric car |

First drive Subaru Stella electric car

It is much smaller than a regular Australian city car, only runs for 80 kilometres between re-charges. Photo Gallery

A tiny future car hit Melbourne today but no-one seemed to notice.

The Subaru Stella is one of the new breed of plug-in electric cars that will be commonplace in the world’s major cities within a decade, although it is currently an outright oddity.

It is much smaller than a regular Australian city car, only runs for 80 kilometres between re-charges, and would probably cost more than $100,000 – much of the money needed for its high-tech lithium-ion battery pack – if you could actually buy one.

But the Stella is not for sale and is only in Australia as the Subaru star at the Melbourne Motor Show which opens on Friday.

Like the similarly tiny Mitsubishi MiEV, the Stella is being used as a development tool and to raise public awareness of the electric cars which will take up the motoring slack as the world’s oil begins to run out.

We will build 100 cars from August. Subaru is building its base as the world’s top electric car company, says the head of the plug-in Stella program, Takashi Suzuki.

Technically, we can get the top position. It’s total technology that gives us the confidence.

Subaru has been partnered with NEC on battery technology for more than five years and is also working hard on the charging technology that will entice people to switch to electric cars. The Stella gets a fast- charge top-up in 15 minutes, although a standard fill from a household socket takes four hours.

It uses eight individual battery packs hidden under the front and rear seats, which power a 15kW-hour electric motor which produces 150 Newton-metres of torque. There is no gearbox and the sparky Stella hits 100km/h when its electric motor is turning at its maximum of 6000 revs.

The performance is the same as a two-litre gasoline engine, Suzuki says.

Suzuki’s estimation of performance seems right as I give the electric Stella a brief sprint around a go-kart track in inner Melbourne. The original plan was for a proper road drive, but that was before the Department of Transport and Road Safety in Canberra decided that only Subaru people would be allowed to drive the car on public roads.

The Stella pulls away nicely, feels tight for a Japanese tiddler, and I can feel the regenerative braking topping the batteries as the engine switches to a generator every time I lift off the accelerator.

The air-con still works well enough – one of many systems that run off a regular 12-volt slave battery – but the Japanese satnav cannot decide how Melbourne fits into its memory mapping of Tokyo.

Then we set off into the city with a Subaru man at the wheel and, despite the breakthrough technology and some giant signs down the sides, no-one looks twice at the Stella.

It is still quiet, although very cramped in the back seat, and flows easily with the traffic. It seems to stop well enough but there is – as you expect in an electric car – no noise to warn pedestrians and a louder horn would be a good idea.

The 2009 Melbourne International Motor Show.

Comments on this story

The more of these the better. A large proportion of car trips in urban areas, and many in rural areas, involve1 or 2 people, small loads and short distances. Minicars would serve most families and many businesses very well as a FIRST car when the cost comes down with large-scale production, with occasional hiring and taxis for other trips.

The big break-through, though, will be when the national energy grid comes under single management and we harvest solar energy wasted in our hot deserts, transmitting it to intensely settled areas by high voltage Direct Current line. 20 years.

John J Bayly of Glen Iris, VIC Posted on 05 November 2009 1:00am

Well done Subaru

I wish you well in your significant step. Knowledge and commonsense will overcome stubborn and selfish stupidity. It took Gallileo some while also.

Please stick to the KISS design principle, there is no need to compete with a Mini Cooper. This vehicle should be a natural progression from walking, push bike, electric bike to electric plug-in shopper and then (SUV until the oil is too expensive).

The whimps who demand air con and other luxury appointments should not overload the simple specification and make this project unviable. They can invent their own aftermarket ad-on packs if they need them. Forget the energy sapping aircon and provide ample natural ventilation, although the waste heat from the motor may be useful in cooler climates.

No need to keep reinventing the wheel use standard components where possible. The electrical industry is standardised extensively internationally so utilise this enormous resource. The components can be sourced and assembled in many countries.

For instance why cannot vehicle system control and condition monitoring and alarm systems be standardised across all manufacturers?

Allan Jameson of Adelaide Posted on 19 September 2009 6:07pm

In terms of an alternative to coal for electricity generation, if more investment would be focused on tidal energy creation the green loop would be completed for an greener future. We have to start somewhere with #8220;zero#8221; emmision transport, I say add 5 c per litre of Fossil fueled transport plus 2c per year for the future, use the proceeds for R+D of a Hydro/Tidal electricity generation.

So much water flows through the heads of our bays around Autralia with every tide, lets create an invisible sub surface power station at these points to create power! Even I have drawn up several different concepts, surely some bright unemployed auto engineers would be able to design something wonderful to EXPORT or shall we yet again let Japanese government come up with the R+D infustructure to one day export the technology to us#8230;AGAIN.

Josh Mathot of Monrnington Posted on 12 July 2009 4:22pm

I worked on electric cars in the 1960#8217;s; IT EVEN MADE SENSE THEN WHEN OIL WAS CHEAP! Its a pity its taken so long for electric cars to come of age. Its oil companies who take most of the blame(50 billion annual profits)- they have the power to dictate to Governments on energy policy. In a few years we will all be saying #8220;WHY DID#8217;NT WE DO THIS BEFORE?#8221;

Arthur Davies Posted on 05 July 2009 1:08pm

Electric car technology is still in its infancy, thanks to the governments of the past (and in a lot of cases, the present.) Hopefully the technology will develope quickly now that we#8217;re sitting on an environmental timebomb coupled with the less imminent threat of world oil shortages.

Bryce and Sonny, I#8217;m with you – the Australian government#8217;s stance on electricity generation is frustrating. We in Australia are sitting on what is potentially the worlds largest solar energy source – we have immense amounts of unused space, and the climate to back it up, but the boys at the top still insist on supporting outdated, dirty technology.

Maxi Malet of Australia Posted on 28 March 2009 2:19pm

Hi Liming

*electric motors are 90% efficient – petrol / diesel 25% efficient

*electrics are much less environmentally damaging, even using coal fired power

*the batteries are 99% recyclable to make new lithium batteries

*studies show a minimum of 1000cycles to 80% dod – so at least 80000kms

*the MIEV will retail around 30k

* if you could buy a fuel cell car. which you can#8217;t. what would it cost ?

*where is the nearest hydrogen refuelling station?

glen andersson Posted on 16 March 2009 12:56pm

Hmm. if the batteries in these electric cars are anything like the ones in our laptops (ie. crap). Not only polution from generating the electricity, but that means a huge environmental hazard disposing of them! Not to mention the maintenence in making sure you discharge them fully regularly or their expected life drops dramatically (ie. macbook batteries) thus creating waste even faster!

How many of us discharge our mobile batteries regularly to extend their life expectency? How long would it take to discharge the huge batteries in these cars?

Bring on the Hydrogen fuel cell cars?

Liming Posted on 03 March 2009 10:34am

Don#8217;t be fooled! It might not have any emmissions from an exhaust pipe at the back of the car but that is only because the exhaust pipe has been moved to Yallourn. The emmissions from burning coal to make electricity to charge the car are just as bad as burning petrol.

This is nothing against Subaru but a problem with the way Australia produces power. Until we have much cleaner power, there is no point in plug in electric technology here.

I would be much more interested in seeing the new Subaru diesel engine in a few of its models.

Bryce of Sunbury Posted on 02 March 2009 9:12pm

These cars arent practical. Electric cars provide environmental benefits but they#8217;re too small to be even relatively safe. combine them with the number of large 4wd#8217;s in the cities and on the road, and owning an electric car will be good for the environment, but seemingly dangerous for the occupants.

M. Posted on 28 February 2009 9:37pm

The government needs to do more to encourage electric car buyers. As a start they should be able to park in the cities without paying parking fees and road tolls.

This would give numbers a huge boost and be in line with other initiatives from across the globe.

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