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"Subaru" is the Japanese word for "unite" and for the star cluster Pleiades that is depicted in the company logo. The Pleiades (also known as the Seven Sisters) has only six stars easily visible to the naked eye. The Subaru logo's six stars represent the five companies that came together after World War II to form one large company. While smaller than many of its competitors, Subaru has been a highly profitable company for many years. It is noted for the production of conventional-bodied cars with full-time AWD (in fact, in many markets its entire product range has this feature) and its use of the horizontally-opposed turbo charged engine.
It is currently an affiliate of Toyota Motor Corporation, with them owning 8.7% of FHI. They acquired that stake from General Motors, who bought 20% of FHI in 1999 to have an extended presence in international markets, and collaborate technologically with FHI. Before that, the stake owned by GM was owned by Nissan, who acquired the stake around the mid-1980s in order to utilize FHI's bus manufacturing capability. In turn, many Subaru vehicles, even today, use parts from the Nissan manufacturing keiretsu. In fact, it was Subaru that introduced Renault to Nissan when they asked for assistance in all-wheel drive (AWD) technology, when FHI told Renault to discuss their plans with Nissan, the discussions eventually led to the successful Renault-Nissan alliance.
Subaru's best-known vehicles are high performance turbocharged versions of its Impreza, and Legacy (known as Liberty in Australia-it was renamed out of respect for the Legacy Australia Foundation, which aids veterans and their families during and after wars), which offer outstanding performance and handling at relatively affordable prices. Modified versions of the Impreza WRX and WRX STi have been competing successfully in car rallies and the World Rally Championship for many years (World Champion drivers include: Colin McRae, Richard Burns and Petter Solberg). The Subaru World Rally Championship cars are prepared and run by Prodrive, the highly successful British Motorsport team. Several endurance records were set in the early and mid-nineties by the Legacy.
Popular nicknames (especially among owners) for the Subaru brand name are "Scooby" and "Scooby-Doo" in the UK, and "Subie" in the U.S. The Impreza WRX model is often referred to as the "Rex."
Subaru started out as "The Aircraft Research Laboratory" in 1917 headed by Chikuhei Nakajima. Then in 1931, the company was reorganized as "Nakajima Aircraft Co., Ltd". At the end of the Second World War, Nakajima Aircraft was again reorganized, this time as Fuji Sangyo Co, Ltd. In 1946, Fuji Sangyo created its first Rabbit motor scooter with spare aircraft parts from the war. In 1950, Fuji Sangyo was divided into 12 smaller corporations according to the 1950 Corporate Credit Rearrangement Act, but between 1953-1955, four of these corporations and a newly formed corporation formed by an alliance of the four aforementioned companies were again merged together to form the Fuji Heavy Industries we know today.
Kenji Kita, the CEO of Fuji Heavy Industries at the time, wanted the new company to be involved in car manufacturing, and chose the name Subaru to grace its first car, the Subaru P1 in 1954. From 1954 to 1989 the company designed and manufactured dozens of vehicles including the P1 (1954), the 360 (1958), the Sambar (1961), the 1000 (1965), the 1100 and the R2 (1969), the Leone (1971, 1975 and 1977), the Domingo (1983), the Alcyone (1985) and the Legacy (1989).
In the United States, the Subaru attracted a following among the young and educated, and as a lightweight SUV alternative to the likes of the Ford Bronco and Jeep Wagoneer or even the expensive Volvo. It has historically been popular in US regions such as the Pacific Northwest and New England, with relatively high resale values and owner loyalty rates. However, facing pressure from competition from the large Japanese brands, Subaru would switch to marketing only AWD cars and wagons. The Subaru Legacy wagon, modified with SUV-like stance and roof, became the best selling wagon in the US during the 2000s as many other wagon body styles declined and vanished.
In the 1990s the company moved away from small commercial vehicles and concentrated on the development of rally car models including the controversially styled six-cylinder SVX (1991), and the Impreza (1992). 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 just like VW/Audi did years before. In 1995 the company created the Sambar EV electric van. In 1997 the Forester was introduced to the world market, followed by a new design of the Legacy vehicle (1998)
From 1995 to 2000, Subaru ran a series of advertisements for the Subaru Outback which starred Paul Hogan. 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.
On October 5, 2005 Toyota stated that it will purchase 8.7% of the shares of FHI from General Motors. GM announced that it will divest its 20% stake in and eventually sever all ties with FHI. FHI has stated that there have been 27 million shares (3.4%) acquired before the start of trading by an unknown party on October 6, 2005. It has been speculated that a bank or perhaps another automaker was involved. Toyota announced a contract with Subaru on March 13, 2006. The under-utilized Subaru of Indiana Automotive plant in Lafayette, Indiana will hire up to 1,000 workers and set aside an assembly line for the Camry model, beginning in spring 2007.
* Baja
* B9 Tribeca
* Forester (a crossover SUV)
* Impreza
* Impreza WRX
* Impreza WRX STI
* Legacy/Liberty
* Outback
* Pleo (a Kei car)
* R1 (a Kei car)
* R2 (a Kei car)
* Sambar (a Kei car)
* Stella (a Kei car)
* 360
* FF-1 Star
* FF-1 G
* 1400 DL/GL
* 1600 Leone
* Subaru GL 1800
* Alcyone (also called the XT, XT6, and Vortex)
* Alcyone SVX (also called the SVX)
* BRAT (also called the Brumby)
* Justy
* Leone
* GL/DL/Loyale
* Rex
* Traviq (a rebadged Opel Zafira Minivan, FWD)
* Vivio