2018 Subaru Crosstrek first drive
Subaru buyers would seem to be the perfect group to be interested in buying plug-in cars: They love the outdoors and want to enjoy it unspoiled.
Yet the company has lagged in producing anything electric.
Its only hybrid so far, the first-generation Crosstrek Hybrid, barely registered on the green-car scene. Behind the wheel, it barely registered as a hybrid; the gas engine had to run to accomplish almost anything.
Now in a trademark filing, first reported by Car and Driver, the company has potentially registered a name for its first plug-in product: Evoltis.
A spokeswoman for Subaru declined to comment on the filing or the potential name.
The Evoltis may be a plug-in hybrid using technology from the Toyota Prius Prime and could go on sale as early as 2019. The Evoltis also may be based on the recently updated Crosstrek.
2017 Toyota Prius Prime, Catskill Mountains, NY, Nov 2016
The previous Crosstrek Hybrid followed the original Crosstrek by a year, so the timing suggests that the Evoltis could be a plug-in version of the new Crosstrek.
A new Subaru Forester is also slated to debut next year.
Along with Mazda, Subaru partnered with Toyota to develop electric cars, which the two smaller automakers had struggled to do on their own.
The Subaru-Toyota partnership has also spawned the Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S/Toyota 86 sports car lineup, and Subaru produced some Camrys at its Indiana factory a generation ago.
The Prius Prime uses an 8.8-kwh battery to deliver a 25-mile electric range.
If the Evoltis is based on the Crosstrek, it may not go as far on a battery charge with its high-ride height and less aerodynamic shape.
Subaru has sold tiny electric cars in Japan, but has never before developed a plug-in in the U.S.
With California demanding that all automakers will have to sell zero-emissions vehicles in the state, Subaru will have to have a plug-in to sell soon. It has so far relied on credits it amassed years ago for building gas cars with especially clean fueling systems, known as partial zero-emissions vehicles.