Subaru will begin evaluating its R1e electric vehicle (EV) in the United States this summer in conjunction with the New York Power Authority (NYPA). The plan will be officially announced 20 March 2008 at the New York International Auto Show.

Subaru will provide two Subaru R1e electric cars to NYPA for evaluation. The Subaru R1e will be on display at the New York International Auto Show, March 21-30. The Subaru R1e employs fast-charge lithium-ion battery technology that eliminates the typical lithium-ion battery issue of charge memory loss, allowing partial charges and quick charges that do not decrease battery life.

The battery pack, originally developed in partnership with NEC Corporation, uses lithium manganese oxide spinel (LiMn2O4) as the cathode active material. The crystalline spinel structure makes the battery resistant to overcharging and provides high thermal stability. A 346V battery pack powers the 40kW drive motor, and can recharge to 80% capacity in 15 minutes.

In 2007, Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI) said that it had developed new rapid recharge technologies that can recharge the R1e to 80% capacity in approximately 8 minutes—twice as fast as before.
NEC Corporation and Fuji Heavy Industries—the producer of Subaru vehicles—dissolved NEC Lamilion Energy Ltd. in 2006. Fuji Heavy Industries transferred all of the shares it holds in NEC Lamilion Energy to NEC and NEC Tokin Corporation, a subsidiary of NEC in the energy storage device business. NEC Lamilion Energy is continuing to develop and to promote manganese lithium-ion batteries for hybrid and electric automobiles as a wholly-owned subsidiary of NEC.
NEC and NEC TOKIN subsequently signed an agreement with Nissan to establish a joint-venture company—Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC)—to develop and market lithium-ion batteries for wide-scale automotive application by 2009, including applications such as hybrids, plug-in hybrids, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and electric vehicles.

The two-seat Subaru R1e is capable of driving at speeds up to 65 mph with a range of up to 50 miles.Don’t expect an R1e to arrive anytime soon at your local Subaru dealership, but if the fast-charge technology continues to improve, one of the biggest obstacles to an electric car future will be eliminated, which could make visits to the gas station seem like a much bigger waste of time and resources.