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Subaru history, profile and history video

“Subaru is the automotive division of Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (FHI), a comprehensive, multifaceted transport equipment manufacturer. FHI develops a range of innovative products based on reliable technology in divisions such as the Automobile Division, the Aerospace Division, the Bus Manufacturing & House Prefabricating Division, the Industrial Products Division and the Transportation & Ecology Systems Division. FHI aims to develop premium brands and be a major player on the global stage in the twenty-first century. To support the future of people and the planet, FHI creates products full of individuality and promise by taking a pioneering stance and respecting tradition. The Company has technology borne of the cross fertilization of technology derived from freethinking and flexibility and unfailing enthusiasm.”

“Subaru History

FHI started out as The Aircraft Research Laboratory in 1915 headed by Chikuhei Nakajima. In 1932, the company was reorganized as Nakajima Aircraft Company, Ltd and soon became the primary manufacturer of aircraft for Japan during World War II. At the end of the Second World War Nakajima Aircraft was again reorganized, this time as Fuji Sangyo Co, Ltd. In 1946, the company created the Fuji Rabbit motor scooter with spare aircraft parts from the war. In 1950, Fuji Sangyo was divided into 12 smaller corporations according to the Japanese Government’s 1950 Corporate Credit Rearrangement Act, anti-zaibatsu legislation, but between 1953 and 1955, four of these corporations and a newly formed corporation Fuji Kogyo, a scooter manufacturer; coachbuilders Fuji Jidosha; engine manufacturers Omiya Fuji Kogyo; chassis builders Utsunomiya Sharyo and the Tokyo Fuji Dangyo trading company decided to merge to form the Fuji Heavy Industries known today.

Kenji Kita, the CEO of Fuji Heavy Industries at the time, wanted the new company to be involved in car manufacturing and soon began plans for building a car with the development code-name P-1. Mr. Kita canvassed the Company for suggestions about naming the P1, but none of the proposals were appealing enough. In the end, he gave the car a Japanese name that he had “been cherishing in his heart”: Subaru, which is the name of the Pleiades star cluster in Japanese. The first Subaru car was named the Subaru 1500. Only twenty P1s were manufactured owing to multiple supply issues. From 1954 to 2008, the company designed and manufactured dozens of vehicles including the 1500 (1954), the tiny air-cooled 360 (1958), the Sambar (1961), the 1000 (which saw the introduction of the Subaru boxer engine in 1965), the R-2 (1969), the Rex and the Leone (1971), the BRAT (1978), Alcyone(1985), the Legacy (1989), the Impreza (1993), the Forester (1997), the Tribeca (2005), the Exiga (2008), and the BRZ (2012).

Major shareholders

Nissan had acquired a 20% stake in 1968 during a period of government-ordered merging of the Japanese auto industry in order to improve competitiveness under the administration of Prime MinisterEisaku Sato. Nissan would utilize FHI’s bus manufacturing capability and expertise for their Nissan Dieselline of buses. In turn, many Subaru vehicles, even today, use parts from the Nissan manufacturingkeiretsu. The Subaru automatic transmission, known as the 4EAT, is also used in the first generation Nissan Pathfinder. Speculation has suggested that it was Subaru that introduced Renault to Nissan, when Renault asked for assistance in all-wheel drive (AWD) technology, and when FHI told Renault to discuss their plans with Nissan, the discussions may have been a contributing factor to the currently successful Renault-Nissan alliance.

Upon Nissan’s acquisition by Renault, its 20% stake was sold to General Motors in 1999. Troy Clarke, of General Motors served as representative to Fuji Heavy Industries on their corporate board. During that time, the Subaru Forester was sold as a Chevrolet Forester in India in exchange for the Opel Zafira being sold as a Subaru Traviq in Japan. Also, the Chevrolet Borrego concept was presented in 2002, a crossover coupe/pickup truck being derived from the Japanese-market Legacy Turbo platform. During the brief General Motors period, a “badge engineered” Impreza was sold in the United States as the Saab 9-2X. An SUV (Subaru Tribeca / SAAB 9-6X) was also planned but the SAAB version did not proceed, and styling was recycled in the 2008 Tribeca refresh.

On October 5, 2005 Toyota Motor Corporation purchased 8.7% of FHI shares from General Motors who had owned 20.1% of FHI since 1999. GM later divested its remaining 11.4% stake, selling its shares on the open market to sever all ties with FHI. FHI previously stated that there might have been 27 million shares (3.4%) acquired before the start of trading by an unknown party on October 6, 2005, and speculation suggested that a bank or perhaps another automaker was involved. After the purchase, Toyota announced a contract with Subaru on March 13, 2006 to use the underutilized Subaru manufacturing facility in Lafayette, Indiana, and Toyota announced plans to hire up to 1,000 workers and set aside an assembly line for the Camry model, beginning in the second quarter of 2007.

Subaru in the United States

Subaru of America was established in 1968 in Philadelphia by Malcolm Bricklin and Harvey Lamm. It relocated to Pennsauken, New Jersey, shortly thereafter and moved to its current headquarters in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, when Fuji Heavy Industries acquired full ownership. Subaru of America operates Regional offices, Zone offices and Parts Distribution Centers throughout the United States. Subaru of America also operates Port Facilities on both the West and East coast.

In 1989, Subaru and then-partner Isuzu opened a joint factory in Lafayette, Indiana, called Subaru-Isuzu Automotive, Inc., or SIA, which initially manufactured the Subaru Legacyand Isuzu Rodeo. In 2001, Isuzu sold their stake in the plant to FHI for $1 due to flagging sales and it was renamed Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc. SIA has been designated a backyard wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation and has achieved a zero-landfill production designation (the first automotive assembly plant in the United States to earn that designation).

Subaru in Canada

Subaru Canada, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Fuji Heavy Industries of Japan. Headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario, the company markets and distributes Subaru vehicles, parts and accessories through a network of 88 authorized dealers throughout Canada.In 1976, Canadians got their first exposure to Subaru vehicles when Subaru Auto Canada Limited (SACL) began offering the Subaru Leone. In 1989, the privately owned SACL was purchased by the Toronto-based Subaru Canada, Inc., who, under the guidance of parent company Fuji Heavy Industries, began an expansion process that would eventually see over 100 Subaru Dealers in operation across the country.

Subaru in the Philippines

Subaru has entered the Philippine operations started in 1996 under the Columbian Motors Philippines ownership but withdrew in 2000. It returned in 2006 under a new ownership by Motor Image Pilipinas Inc. The Impreza has become a popular hatchback as an alternative to the Mazda 3. The Subaru Forester gained quick popularity in the country due to its relatively low price, even providing a harder competition to the extremely popular Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-7. The Subaru Legacy and Outback are also doing very well, as a much cheaper alternative to German luxury cars. Subaru has six dealerships in the country: Greenhills, Fort Bonifacio, Alabang, Davao, Cebu and Pampanga.

Motor Image Pilipinas, Inc., part of Motor Image Group, the company markets and distributes Subaru vehicles, parts and accessories through a network of six dealerships in thePhilippines.

Marketing efforts

In the 1970s, the company decided to expand its model range from small kei class vehicles like the Rex and Sambar and begin to develop larger, mainstream passenger cars like the Leone, and when Subaru continued in their efforts, and introduced the Legacy in 1989, it was a sales success and a new direction for the company. Subaru decided to offer more products due to the Plaza Accord agreement of 1985 which made the value of the yen stronger in exchange rates to the dollar, which had an effect on Subaru sales in the USA. The creation of the Legacy was influenced by Subaru’s desire to compete with successful Japanese carmakers Toyota, Nissan and Honda, and the Legacy was targeted against the Camry, Stanza, and Accord. The Legacy was considered mainstream in its appearance and a departure from previous vehicles, which had earned a reputation of being “quirky”. Subaru continued their new direction with the controversially styled Alcyone XT (1985), the GT six-cylinder SVX (1992), and the Impreza (1993).

From 1995 to 2000, Subaru ran a series of advertisements for the newly developed Subaru Outback which starred Paul Hogan as his “Crocodile Dundee” film character. The advertisements were intended to highlight Subaru’s all wheel drive, and depicted the Outback in a number of rugged Australian locations. The tagline “the world’s first sport utility wagon” was successfully used by Subaru, though the AMC Eagle had tried much the same idea, with less success in the 1980s.

Before the Outback was introduced, Subaru sold a badge engineered Isuzu Trooper in Japan as the Subaru Bighorn.

Some of the advertising slogans Subaru has used in the past include, “Inexpensive, and built to stay that way” (USA 1970s – early 1980s), “The World’s Favorite Four Wheel Drive” (in the U.K.), “Plus on y pense, plus on a le gout de la conduire” (Literally: “The more one thinks, the more one has the taste (or desire, impulse, drive) of driving it”) in French Quebec, “We built our reputation by building a better car”, “What to Drive”, “The Beauty of All-Wheel Drive”, “Driven by What’s Inside”, “Think, Feel, Drive”, “Love. It’s what makes Subaru, a Subaru” (USA early 2010s) and currently “Confidence in Motion” in North America, “All 4 The Driver” in Australia, and “Uncommon Engineering, Uncommon Stability, Uncommon Roadholding, Uncommon Sense” in the UK.

As a result of this refocused advertising campaign, Subaru products began to attract a following among the young and educated, who saw the car as a practical alternative to the SUV craze. Subaru has historically been popular in the Northeastern United States, as well as the Pacific Northwest. According to Automotive Lease Guide, Subaru ranked second place in vehicles that have the highest overall predicted resale values among all industry and all luxury vehicles for MY 2009. The awards are derived after carefully studying segment competition, historical vehicle performance and industry trends. According to a study done by J.D. Power and Associates, for the 2008 Customer Retention Study, Subaru ranked at 50.5%, which was above the national average of 48%. Harman Kardon is currently the audio supplier for Subaru products worldwide.

Hōkago no Pleiades (Original net animation)

Subaru launched an animation series Hōkago no Pleiades (放課後のプレアデス Hōkago no Pureadesu?, lit. ‘After School Pleiades’) developed jointly with Gainax. The 4-part mini episode series was released on YouTube on February 1, 2011. It featured a magical girl plot with Subaru as a leading protagonist.

Motorsports

Subaru Rally Team Japan led by Noriyuki Koseki (founder of Subaru Tecnica International, STI) ran Subaru Leone coupé, sedan DL, RX(SRX) and RX Turbo in the World Rally Championship between 1980 and 1989. Drivers for individual rallies included Ari Vatanen, Per Eklund, Shekhar Mehta, Mike Kirkland, Possum Bourne and Harald Demut. Mike Kirkland finished 6th overall and won the A Group at the 1986 Safari Rally. That year Subaru was one of the only manufacturers combining 4WD and turbo after Audi’s successful quattro system had been introduced in 1980, but Audi withdrew from the WRC after safety concerns and Ford’s serious accident early in the 1986 season. Subaru changed the rally model to Legacy RS for the 1990–1992 period and took part in the first complete season in the World Rally Championship with the same model in 1993.

Modified versions of the Impreza WRX and WRX STi have been competing successfully in rallying; drivers Colin McRae (1995), Richard Burns (2001) and Petter Solberg (2003) have won World Rally Championship drivers’ titles with the Subaru World Rally Team, and Subaru took the manufacturers’ title three years in a row from 1995 to 1997. Subaru’s World Rally Championship cars are prepared and run byProdrive, the highly successful British motorsport team. Several endurance records were set in the early and mid-nineties by the Subaru Legacy.

Subaru was briefly involved in Formula One circuit racing when it bought a controlling interest in the tiny Italian Coloni team for the 1990 season. The Coloni 3B’s 12-cylinder engine was badged as a Subaru and shared the boxer layout with the company’s own engines, but was an existing design built by Italian firm Motori Moderni. The cars were overweight and underpowered and the partnership broke down before the season finished.With the rise of rally racing, and the Import scene in the US, the introduction of the highly anticipated Subaru Impreza WRX in 2001 was successful in bringing high-performance, AWD compact cars into the sports car mainstream. Subaru supplies a factory-backed team, Subaru Rally Team USA for Rally America, and has won the driver’s title six times, most recently in 2011 with David Higgins.

On 4 May 2012, Subaru Rally Team USA announced that a new rallycross team, Subaru Puma Rallycross Team USA, will participate in the 2012 Global RallyCross Championshipseason with Dave Mirra, Bucky Lasek, and Sverre Isachsen.

On 16 December 2008, it was announced that Subaru would no longer be competing in the World Rally Championships. The decision was taken by Subaru’s parent company,Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI), partly as a result of the economic downturn but also because it was felt Subaru had achieved its sporting and marketing objectives. Mr Ikuo Mori denied that alterations to the WRC technical regulations in 2010 or a rumoured deterioration in the working relationship with Prodrive had any impact on the decision. He also said that the possibility of a Subaru car back in the top category of WRC in the future is not zero, but for this moment there can be no assumption of a comeback.

Starting in 2006, Subaru of America (SOA), as the official distributor of Subaru vehicles in the United States, participates in the Subaru Road Racing Team (SRRT) with a Subaru Legacy 2.5 GT Spec-B in the Grand-Am Street Tuner class. In 2010, SRRT campaigns a Subaru Impreza WRX STI in the Grand Sport class. In 2011, SRRT switched from the hatchback to a 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI sedan.

Diesel

The 2007 Frankfurt International Motor Show saw Subaru introduce a horizontally opposed, water-cooled, common rail turbodiesel using a variable geometry turbocharger called the Subaru EE engine, the first of its type to be fitted to a passenger car. Volkswagen had previously experimented with this idea during the 1950s, and made two air-cooled boxerprototype diesel engines that were not turbocharged, and installed one engine in a Type 1 and another in a Type 2.

The Subaru engine was rated at 110 kW (150 PS; 148 hp) and 350 N·m (260 ft·lbf) with a displacement of 2.0 litres. In March 2008 Subaru offered the Legacy sedan and wagon and the Outback wagon with the 2.0 litre turbodiesel in the EU with a 5-speed manual transmission only.

In September 2008 Subaru announced that the diesel Forester and diesel Impreza will be introduced at the 2008 Paris Motor Show, with Forester sales to begin October 2008 and diesel Impreza sales to start January 2009. The Forester and Impreza will have a 6-speed manual transmission only, whereas the Legacy and Outback have 5-speed manual transmissions only.”

*Information from subaru-global.com and Wikipedia.org

**Video published on YouTube by “Subaru UK