Subaru R1e - Lithium Ion Battery Car
August 2005, Tokyo based Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (FHI) unveiled an electric car concept model built to run on high-performance, lithium-ion batteries. The electric car is geared to compete in the ever developing environment-friendly vehicles marketplace. Environmentally friendly cars include FFV's, (flex fuel vehicles) hydrogen fuel cars, solar powered cars and even cars that run on biodiesel. The most widely known flex fuel vehicles run on E85 - a biofuel being made from feedstocks ranging from corn, and sugarcane, to switchgrass. Biodiesel is being produced from several different products such as soybeans, yellow grease, and animal fat (see chicken fat biofuel).
According to Kyoji Takenaka, President of Fuji Heavy, the Subaru model R1e (2006) was built to challenge Toyota Motor Corp. and other rivals leading in technologies for hybrid electric-gasoline or fuel-cell vehicles. Subaru began selling the gas powered R1, and R2 660cc cars in Japan in 2003. Subaru Canada, Inc. (SCI) unveiled the R1e prototype electric vehicle at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto in February, 2005 (the "e" of course, is for "electric").
The R1e, which is based on the R1 mini-car available in Japan, is powered using manganese lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery technology. The lithium-ion batteries, were co-developed by a joint venture between Fuji Heavy and NEC Corporation. With the use of an exclusive charger, the batteries could recharge to within 90 percent capacity in just five minutes.
In December 2007, Fuji Heavy Industries announced the start of production of the R1e electric battery medium in 2009, a full year ahead of inventory. The all-electric medium uses a lithium-ion battery bundle has a rank of 50 miles and a acme speed of 62 mph.
Prices have yet to be released for the 2009 Japan-sole prototype, FHI says it hopes to get the cost down to $17,500 by 2012 or 2013. After mass production of the lithium-ion batteries is in full swing, the electric cars price is hoped to drop even further, to around $13,000.