Subaru maker Fuji Heavy Industries has unveiled an electric minicar concept model that uses high-performance lithium-ion batteries that the automaker says will help it compete against others in developing environment-friendly vehicles.

Fuji Heavy President Kyoji Takenaka told Kyodo News that, with the Subaru R1e model, Fuji Heavy is ready to challenge Toyota and other rivals leading in technologies for hybrid petrol-electric or fuel-cell vehicles.

''Electric vehicles could establish a certain presence if we developed technology to charge batteries overnight,'' Takenaka reportedly said.

Fuji officials told the news agency the company plans to conduct road tests of the Subaru R1e this year but has no firm date on when it will bring the car to market.

The lithium-ion batteries, co-developed by a joint venture of Fuji Heavy and NEC Corp., only take five minutes to be charged 90%, the company said.

The car can be driven more than 150,000 kilometres [about 95,000 miles] without needing a change in battery, Kyodo News noted.

Auto market intelligence
from just-auto

• Auto component fitment forecasts
• OEM & tier 1 profiles & factory finder
• Analysis of 30+ auto technologies & more