Subaru to launch plug-in Stella EV in Japan

Subaru says that it plans to launch its plug-in electric vehicle, based on its Stella minicar, beginning late next month. The Japanese automaker hopes to have about 170 of its zero-emissions minicars on the road by the end of March 2010.

The Stella EV, which was unveiled about a year ago, can go about 90 kilometers between charges. A quick top-off takes 15 minutes, according to Subaru, while a full charge should be done overnight for eight hours with a standard 100V Japanese household power outlet.

Putting out about 63-horsepower, the boxy Stella EV weighs in around 2230 lb and delivers power through the front wheels. Subaru says it'll accelerate to just 100 km/h, meaning it's not intended as a highway vehicle.

It'll go on sale for 4.725 million yen, or about $49,000, but Subaru says it'll qualify for up to about $14,000 in government subsidies by Japan's "Next Generation Vehicle Promotion Center." On top of that Subaru says it expects even further tax reductions from the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.