Subaru To Replace STI With STe For High-Performance Electric Cars

Scoop / 14 Comments

Subaru's iconic performance sub-brand is going electric.

Subaru officially filed a trademark for the "STe" nomenclature at the German Patent and Trademark Office, which indicates that the beloved STI badge is dead and will be replaced by new nomenclature on an all-electric model. CarBuzz discovered the patent, filed in Class 12, for an apparatus for locomotion by land, air, or water.

A year ago, Subaru announced there would be no WRX STI for the current generation, stating the brand was looking to the future with an eye on electrification. Just prior to that announcement, the brand had revealed a 1,000-hp electric supercar concept called the STI E-RA, which stood for Electric-Record Attempt, indicating that electric performance Subarus would retain the STI branding. It now appears the brand has changed its tune and will brand them as STe models instead. That means a Subaru Solterra STe may not be too far off.

Hear that low rumble in the distance? That's the STI fan club starting a riot, and we get it. Driving a WRX STI (any generation) is something every gearhead needs to tick off their bucket list.


We believe the STe nomenclature will be applied to fully electric cars and not plug-in hybrids for two reasons. If it were a plug-in hybrid based around the famous turbocharged 2.5-liter flat-four or even the 2.0-liter DIT flat-four, Subaru would have kept the famous STI designation. Finally, Subaru is on record stating that an all-new STI would not make sense because. By the time it would have hit the market, it would have had an extremely short shelf life due to strict emissions legislation in the USA and Europe.

While Toyota currently builds Subaru's one and only EV, Subaru will build a dedicated EV factory next to its existing Oizumi plant. This indicates a clear move over to electrification, at least in Japan, where there is sufficient demand.

The STe trademark also showcases a return of the mixed capitalization for Subaru's performance arm.


STI stands for Subaru Tecnica International, a subsidiary of Subaru established in 1988. STI was Subaru's dedicated motorsport division, and its engineers were tasked with building the road-legal homologation models required to go racing. In short, the name meant something. It was Japan's M division. Prior to 2006, STi was spelled with a lowercase i, while subsequently, it was all-caps. The new badge returns to that original stylization, but in turn, loses the meaning of the original acronym.

STe has no meaning. It's simply a combination of the first two letters of a highly-respected acronym with an "e" pasted to the end. We're not against Subaru building a performance EV, but the STI acronym deserved to retire gracefully. It's already being used to market watered-down semi-brisk models, and earlier in March, it was glued to the rear of an all-new Impreza with a 143-horsepower naturally aspirated engine and a CVT gearbox.

The STI is dead. Long live the STe. Or not.


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