With Subaru’s recently-unveiled Solterra electric SUV and existing plug-in Crosstrek Hybrid, you might think this automaker’s efforts toward electrification are fairly new. But that’s not the case. Like most automakers, Subaru was exploring electrification many years ago. Among the most interesting example was the Subaru B9 SC Scrambler series-parallel hybrid electric concept that was unveiled almost two decades ago. Here, we take a look at the B9 SC Scrambler roadster in a feature that originally appeared in Green Car Journal’s Summer 2004 issue.
Excerpted from Summer 2004 Issue: Subaru, a marque that doesn’t come readily to mind when talking advanced technology vehicles, can be a bit of a tease. Back in 1991, this auto- maker all but stunned the automotive world with a sports coupe that could generously be called atypical – the cutting edge Subaru SVX.
This swoopy, fast, and decidedly cool car didn’t become a huge seller, but it did establish Subaru’s credentials as a company that could bring advanced vehicles to the showroom with the best of ‘em, something we see today in models like the Impreza WRX STi. Still, Subaru tends to stay on the mainstream side with such well-engineered staples as the Outback, Forester, and Legacy rather than heading for the limelight with flexible fuel or hybrid models.
Well, Subaru has stepped out of the box again, and in a big way. Its B9 SC “Scrambler” hybrid electric concept blends the design direction of Subaru’s Andreas Zapatinas – formerly head of design at Alfa Romeo – with a unique hybrid electric drive technology that works seamlessly with Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system, and also is adaptable to its current vehicle platforms.
This automaker’s Sequential Series Hybrid Electric Vehicle (SSHEV) system places a generator between a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder DOHC Subaru Boxer gasoline engine and transmission with a two-way clutch, high-performance electric motor, and all-wheel drive transfer gearing integrated into the transmission case. What’s unique about the SSHEV powerplant is that its Boxer gasoline engine supplements the electric drive motor, rather than the other way around. Up to about 50 mph, the gasoline engine’s primary role is to charge the laminated lithium-ion batteries that power the hybrid vehicle’s electric motor. The gasoline Boxer engine takes over as primary propulsion above 50 mph, a speed range that’s most efficient for this internal combustion powerplant. Both electric and gasoline powerplants jointly provide power under demanding driving conditions.
Subaru says it will be able to offer customers the kind of performance now enjoyed with its turbocharged models by using its own hybrid electric drive technology. After being blown away by the impressive performance of Subaru’s SVX while driving this sports coupe at its debut back in 1991, we have no doubt that Subaru has the technical savvy and is surely up to this challenge…with a few more tricks up its sleeve, to be sure.