Subaru has filed a trademark application for "STe" nomenclature with the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA), possibly hinting at a performance badge for future electric cars.
First spotted by CarBuzz, STe sounds like a replacement for STI, the performance badge Subaru is shelving. The automaker last year announced that there would be no WRX STI for this generation, saying future performance models would need to focus on reduced emissions and electrification, and that the current WRX introduced for the 2022 model year would be as far as that platform went.
2021 Subaru WRX STI
STI stands for Subaru Tecnica International, which debuted in 1988 as Subaru's motorsports division and maker of its most hardcore performance road cars, generally variants of the WRX. Prior to 2006, the acronym was spelled with a lowercase "i," and in all caps after that. STe returns to that original style, serving as a callback to STI, with a lowercase "e" likely standing for "electrified."
When it announced the discontinuation of the WRX STI, Subaru said it looks "forward to incorporating the essence of STI into our next generation of vehicles," indicating the rally-bred STI lineup could expand to or influence other vehicles. Electric vehicles, specifically.
Subaru STI E-RA concept
Subaru's only current EV is the Solterra crossover, co-developed with Toyota, and identical in most respects to the larger automaker's bZ4X. At the 2022 Tokyo Auto Salon, Subaru showed a Solterra STI concept decked out with a roof spoiler, full body kit, and custom wheels, but no performance modifications.
Subaru also showed the STI E-RA Challenge Project concept, a 1,072-hp electric racer, at the 2022 Tokyo Salon. So Subaru does appear to have some interest in performance EVs. STe just might be the badge they wear.