Subaru: From Aircraft to Racing
Subaru has cut its niche in the automobile industry over the years since its inception, and the mention of its name surely brings smiles to many auto enthusiasts all over the world. Fun fact you may not know; Subaru is the division of Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI) that is tasked with automobile manufacturing. Subaru is known for its signature engine engineering design, the boxer engine. Found in all Subaru cars over 1500cc, the engine has pistons that appear to be throwing punches as they move, hence the nickname boxer layout.
The origin of the Fuji Heavy Industries Subaru
FHI can be traced back to a company called the Aircraft Research Laboratory which was established in 1915 and reorganized to Nakajima Aircraft Company later in 1932. This new company was the manufacturer of airplanes for the Japanese government during World War II, and following the conclusion of the war, the company was once again reorganized to Fuji Sangyo Co, Ltd. This newest company was divided further, forming 12 smaller corporations as mandated by an act by the government. By 1955, four of those smaller corporations plus a new corporation merged to form Fuji Heavy Industries.
Despite their history in making aircraft and scooters, the new CEO of the company decided that it was time to invest in the automobile industry. The CEO canvassed his organization for a long time, searching for a name to give the first car codenamed the P-1. After failing to find anything satisfactory, he called the company Subaru, a name he had cherished in his heart for a long while. The first car was named Subaru 1500.
Subaru meaning and Logo
The Subaru name was drawn from the Pleiades star constellation which is said to have seven stars. The constellation inspires the company’s logo and refers to the companies (five) that merged to form the FHI. The word Subaru in Japan can be taken to mean United and how the stars in the constellation are united. FHI is, like the stars, a constellation of United companies.
Subaru’s involvement in racing has been very successful, and only one word can describe the journey; legendary. Since the Subaru Rally Team Japan used the cars in racing competitions in the early 1980’s, success has come easy in various rally events worldwide. Subaru currently holds the record for competing in the World Rally Competition for the longest time and briefly dominated in mid-1990’s, winning three consecutive manufacturer’s championship between 1995 and 1997. Subaru cars have also won the driver’s championship thrice, in 1995, 2001 as well as in 2003.
In addition to these medals, Subaru holds many endurance records, set during the 1990’s. One of the more impressive is for the fastest sub 1.0 L automobile without turbocharging at 123.224 mph. Despite the great success it has enjoyed on the tracks, the company decided to pull out of the World Rally Championships effective 16 December 2008. The company cited that they felt they had achieved both sporting and marketing objectives. The decision was however partly influenced by a downturn in the economy.
Subaru may not have as many sales as Toyota, but is a company that is consistently growing and offering superb engineering. It has seen its sales numbers increase by 12% YOY and at a time when other automakers are struggling to break even. The company has projected that their sales numbers are only going to rise and the expectation within the company is that 1.1 million sales record will be achieved by 2020. The future looks green, so smile all you Subaru loyalists!