Are, in the words of Mr Numan, friends electric?
Yes, Subaru has finally realised that nearly all of its range dishes out too much carbon and decided to save the flowers. Besides inventing the world's first production boxer diesel (due out 2008), it has lifted the lid on this electric concept, the G4e. In case you were wondering, G4e stands for Green for the earth. Nice. The whole bodyshell has been designed to be as slippery as possible, resulting in a cd of just 0.276. The Subaru star badges illuminate blue and there's a discrete 'mouth' where you couple it up to the national grid for a feed. It's green, literally. Well apart from the reliance on power station juice. You’re probably thinking electric is all well and good, but can it get me to work and back? According to Subaru the 346-volt G4e concept has a range of 124 miles, which is respectable. In addition, charging takes just 15 minutes using public facilities or eight hours from a home AC power source. The G4e is powered by new lithium-ion battery technology developed exclusively for Subaru whose vanadium material can store two to three times more lithium ions than conventional material. The space-age Subaru is designed to carry five, so the 16 batteries (three rows) are located beneath the floor of an interior that’s as tasteful as a tart’s boudoir. With gold plated plastic, a Star Wars steering wheel, shocking red paint and white shag pile carpet the cabin is hardly shy and retiring, but there's something fantastic about it. The dashboard design was inspired by a flowing waterfall. The whole concept car reminds us of what 'future cars' looked like back in the 1970s and 1980s. Which is quite cool, actually. So will it happen? It's doubtful at the moment, especially as the cuter Subaru R1e microcar (a joint project with Tokyo Electric Power Company) is further down the R&D conveyor belt – 40 have been built so far.