Subaru is famous for using their boxer engine design in vehicles rated above 1500cc. They also contain the Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system in most vehicles since 1972. The exception to this has been the Subaru BRZ which was released in 2012. This vehicle utilizes the boxer engine but its paired with the rear-wheel drive design instead. The company is also known for their turbocharged varieties like the Legacy 2.5 GT and the Subaru Impreza WRX.
A Brief Overview Of Subaru History
Subaru Origin: Fuji Heavy Industries
The Aircraft Research Laboratory was started in 1915 which was headed up by Chikuhei Nakajima. Then, in 1932, it was reorganized to become the Nakajima Aircraft Company. This organization became the dominant manufacturer of aircrafts used for Japan in World War II. After the war ended, they reorganized once again to become Fuji Sangyo Company.
– Fuji Kogyo (scooter manufacturer)
– Fuji Jidosha (coachbuilders)
– Omiya Fuji Kogyo (engine manufacturer)
– Utsunomiya Sharyo (chassis manufacturer)
– Tokyo Dangyo Trading Company
The CEO of FHI, Kenji Kita, desired to get involved with car manufacturing. That’s when he began making plans with the name P-1. He asked others in the company to help him formulate a name for the P1, but none of the respondents provided anything appealing. After all the research, he decided to go with the Japanese name, Subaru. It was also the Japanese name for the Pleiades star formation.
The first car produced was the Subaru 1500. In the end, just twenty of these cars were manufactured because multiple issues with supply occurred. Later, they built several other vehicles including the 1500, air-cooled 360, the Sambar, plus the 1000. The Subaru 1000 was the first to see the boxer engine starting in 1965.
Working With Nissan
Subaru’s had many partnerships throughout the years. In 1968, Nissan received 20.4% stake in FHI when the government ordered the merging of the auto industry in Japan. They believed it would improve competitiveness while operating under the Prime Minister. The plan was for Nissan to use Fuji Heavy Industries’ capability for manufacturing buses. In exchange, Subaru vehicles were to use parts from Nissan. Subaru still utilizes many of these parts in their vehicles. One of the most well-known partnerships was with the 4EAT automatic transmission placed in the Nissan Pathfinder (1st Generation). Together, they also released the R-2, the Rex, the Leone, the BRAT, Alcyone, the Legacy, the Impreza (including the WRX), plus the Forester.
Partnering with General Motors
Once Nissan was acquired by Renault, the stake in Subaru was sold off to General Motors. This occurred in 1999 and Troy Clarke was appointed as representative over FHI from General Motors. It was throughout their time together that Subaru created the Baja and the Tribeca. In fact, in India, the Subaru Forester was named the Chevrolet Forester in exchange for the Open Zafira being named Subaru Traviq throughout Japan.
Toyota and Subaru
In 2005, GM then liquidated all of their holdings of FHI. At that point, all Subaru-Saab projects were discontinued. Subaru did continue to supply parts for the Saab 9-2x. A little more than 40% off GM’s stock was sold to Toyota Motors. In total, it meant that Toyota had an 8.7% share of FHI. The rest of GM’s stock went to the Fuji stock buy-back program. Since Toyota came on board, there have been a number of collaborations. One of the more important workings was how they created Camrys in the plant built in Indiana. This started in April of 2007.
Then, in July 2008, they increased their share to 16.5%. Together, they created the Toyota 86 which was sold in 2012. It was also known as a Subaru BRZ.
Subaru in the Modern Age
In 2000, the company created the EZ30 compact six-cylinder engine. It was the same length when compared to a 4-cylinder and featured exceptional rotational balance plus a low center of gravity.
In January 2014, Subaru reached 20 million units produced in Japan since beginning in 1958. They also relocated the headquarters to the new Ebisu Subaru Building located in Tokyo. On the first floor of the building, there is a showroom with numerous Subaru models displayed.
In 2015, Subaru hit 15 million units of AWD vehicles produced. This was the 44th year that the company created all-wheel-drive vehicles. In that same year, AWD models made up 98% of the global sales for the company.
Then, in 2017, FHI changed its name to Subaru Corporation. To commemorate the moment, a new Impreza was launched in Japan.
Alternative Propulsion Methods
After years of not releasing any information on electric or hybrid options in the works, they finally released plans to create the Subaru Crosstrek PHEV. This hybrid is a Crosstrek that’s driven in either PHEV model or pure EV mode. The car uses the four-cylinder direct-injection Boxer engine, Toyota’s Hybrid System and Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive.
Subaru Safety and Crash Ratings
Are Subaru vehicles safe? Consumers seem to think so. In 2018, the Subaru brand won the title for “The Most Trusted Brand” from KBB. This gave them their fourth consecutive win. The reason for winning this award was cited as having a combination of being affordable, dependable, high safety features and all-weather grip.
There is a variety of standard safety equipment Subaru vehicles come with. First, they all have the advanced airbags. On top of that, weight sensors are used in the front to disable deployment when the seat is unoccupied or a young child is present.
Another thing that makes them safe is their design. They have a ring-shaped reinforcement frame design to prevent injury. This works because the frame diverts energy from the impact away from passengers. In addition, they have crumple zones to absorb energy from a crash.
The engine design is something else that makes the Subaru brand unique. The Boxer engine sits lower than most motors on the chassis. It also dismounts when there’s an accident. This means it slides under the vehicle and away from passengers. Even without a crash, this design is helpful with safety. It creates a lower center of gravity, greater visibility, better balance and overall more protection than regular engines.
While all-wheel-drive isn’t a unique feature, Subaru offers a symmetrical design all their own. The left and ride sides of their drivetrain are balanced sort of like an airplane. This ensures additional stability. It also gives drivers quicker responses to spillage and offers better grip.
Other safety equipment Subaru offers includes Daytime Running Lights (DLR), Brake Assist and Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC). It’s also possible to get vehicles with the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), side-curtain airbags, Safety Pedal System and rear vision camera.
Finally, Subaru offers the Subaru EyeSight System. It’s like having a second pair of eyes monitor the road. When something is spotted, the driver receives visual and audible warnings to take action. It also includes automatic braking when necessary.
While Subaru tends to have the same amount of recalls as a typical automaker, there was one in 2013 that was interesting. Subaru of America recalled over 47,000 vehicles because the remote starters allowed engines to start by themselves.
Basically, if the key fob was dropped, the engine could start. The motor would only run for 15 minutes at a time, but it could continue back up again until the gas ran out or the battery in the fob died. This led to a risk of carbon monoxide buildup in garages.
In Japan, there was another large recall that occurred in 2017. Almost 400,000 vehicles spanning nine models were recalled after it was determined the automaker allowed unauthorized workers to carry out final testing for more than 30 years.
Subaru Consumer Satisfaction Reports & Dependability Ratings
Is Subaru reliable? They are a popular vehicle found within a core group of consumers that have extreme loyalty to the company. This Japanese company has supplied customers with practical, affordable and unpretentious all-wheel-drive vehicles for many years. They’ve done well in testing from multiple companies and have fared great with reliability and owner satisfaction surveys.
Most customers praise the roomy interiors, great visibility, intuitive controls, better than average fuel economy plus the comfortable ride. They also like that Subaru maintains high tech features as well as the EyeSight suite of safety features.
In addition, Subaru still has 97% off its vehicles sold from the last ten years, currently still driving on the roads today. With all that said, Subaru has failed to be ranked in the top of the J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study for several years.
Aside from being labeled the 2018 Most Trusted Brand, according to Kelley Blue Book, Subaru has won numerous other awards throughout the years. Some of the more recent include:
– IIHS Top Safety Picks for all 2018 models featuring the EyeSight and Steering Responsive Headlights
– 2018 Top Brand for Residual Value according to the ALG
A look through all the awards will quickly show you that Subaru is a trusted brand. In fact, they’ve been the best-selling all-wheel-drive car in American for over ten years.
Zero Landfill Status
Subaru first looked into achieving zero waste in 2002 from their Indiana manufacturing plant. By 2004, they became the first “zero landfill” auto manufacturer. That means that since 2004, the plants in the United States haven’t sent one piece of trash to the landfill.
100% off their manufacturing waste was either turned into electricity or recycled.
Since they’ve been successful with doing this in a manufacturing plant, they’ve partnered with the National Park Service in an effort to reduce waste. Over the years, there have been three pilot programs together. These zero-landfill tests happened in Denali, Grand Teton and Yosemite National Parks.
It’s estimated that these parks generate up to 2200 tons of trash per park, per year. By creating solutions to handle the waste, the parks and communities benefit. The pilot programs aim to reduce landfill needs in the United States over the next few years.
Subaru Love Promise
To further extend this promise, they’ve enlisted all their dealers to do the same. In total, the company has donated more than $50 million in the last two decades to causes they believe promote love.
You’ve probably seen their charitable efforts through Subaru Loves Learning, Subaru Loves the Earth, Subaru Loves to Help plus Subaru Loves to Care.
One of the more well-known causes has been Subaru Loves Pets. It’s been their effort to improve the lives of every animal, whether they were domesticated or wild. From an organizational standpoint, the company partners with several groups, including:
– ASPCA Rescue Rides
– The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)
– Pet Philanthropy Circle Hero Awards
– Pilots N Paws
– Center for Pet Safety
Where are Subarua Made? Snapshot of the Company
Where are Subaru cars made? As far as Subaru of America, their headquarters are located in Cherry Hill, NJ. This has been the corporate headquarters since 1986. This building cost $18 million and is 115,000 square feet. It features seven stories with more than 300 employees. This location is responsible for marketing, finance, product planning and sales of Subaru vehicles, accessories and parts. They work with the 600 retailers across the United States.
The Subaru Operations Center is situated in Pennsauken, NJ. This location is 59,000 square-feet with almost 200 employees. This building handles all the Customer Loyalty and Customer Retailer Service. They are also responsible for Government Relations, Finance, Parts, Service and Training.
Subaru of America operates three regional offices as well as 12 zone offices. These locations are responsible for marketing, retailer relations and local sales. The three regional offices are located in Cherry Hill, NJ; Itasca, IL and Denver, CO. The 12 zone offices are located throughout the United States. There are about 100 people employed in the zone and regional offices.
There are also five warehouses located in the United States. They supply the retailer parts plus all the accessories needed in western Canada and the US. Warehouses are located in New Jersey, Georgia, Indiana, Colorado, and Oregon. There are over 100 employees at the warehouses.
The first Subaru vehicle to make its way into Canada was the 1976 Subaru Leone. In 1989, Subaru Auto Canada Limited was purchased by Subaru Canada with the help of FHI. The expansion was designed to create more than 100 dealerships in the country.
Subaru Canada is headquartered in Ontario and they work with 88 dealers in the country. Through their operations, they market and distribute vehicles, accessories, and parts.
In other Asian countries besides Japan, all Subaru cars, accessories, and parts go through Motor Image Group. They are owned by Tan Chong International Limited and based in Hong Kong.
In 1996, Subaru began their Philippine operations with the Columbian Motors Philippines, but later in 2000, they withdrew. In 2006, they returned with Motor Image Pilipinas, their new owner. There are eleven dealers in the Philippines.
Subaru United Kingdom
Jensen Motors, under the financial direction of Robert Edmiston, went bankrupt in 1974. As part of the redundancy payout, he established International Motors. This company acquired both UK franchises of Isuzu and Subaru. To this day, the company is still the parent of the UK division of Subaru.
In 2017, the Impreza finished with sales of 86,043 which were up 55.8%. The Outback ended the year with sales totaling 188,886, up 3.3%. Subaru’s Crosstrek totaled 110,138 of the sales while Forester ended with 177,563. At the end of the year, Legacy achieved an additional 49,837 of the sales, while the STI and WRX performance models had a combined total of 31,358 units.
In April 2018, Subaru reported 77 consecutive months of consistent month-over-month growth. They also sold their 9 millionth Subaru. It was also their 50th consecutive month where they sold more than 40,000 vehicles.
Subaru operates with four main business divisions. The first one is through the automobile industry, with what we know as Subaru.
The second is an aerospace division that is contracted by the Japan Defense Agency. They sell defense-related and commercial aircraft, target drones, and helicopters. They’ve built the Bell AH-1 Cobra plus Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopters. They also participate in making the Boeing 777, Hawker 4000, Boeing 787, and the Airbus A380. Subaru supplies parts to other aircraft projects such as the Boeing 747, Boeing 737 plus the Boeing 767.
The third business operation is the Subaru Industrial Power Products. They manufacture and sell commercial engines, generators, and pumps. Subaru brands them under the Robin and Subaru-Robin brand. From 1968 through 1998, “Star” engines were also produced and supplied to Polaris Industries snowmobiles. While they no longer provide the engines, they remain a partner with Polaris as well as supply pistons to the company. In total, they’ve supplied Polaris with over two million engines.
The fourth business division is the eco-technology segment. They are in charge of manufacturing robot sweepers, wind turbines and garbage trucks.
Subaru used to produce railroad cars and buses, but that division ended in 2003.
Some marketing campaigns from Subaru became famous and memorable. These included:
- “Inexpensive, and built to stay that way” used in the United States from the 70s to the early 80s
- “The World’s Favourite Four Wheel Drive” used in the UK
- “The more one thinks, the more one has the taste of driving it” used 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” used in the United States in early 2010s
- “Confidence in Motion”
- “All 4 The Driver” used in Australia
- “Uncommon Engineering, Uncommon Stability, Uncommon Roadholding, Uncommon Sense” used in the UK
- “Technology that gives you Confidence in Motion” used in Southeast Asia
Through their advertising efforts, Subaru attracted the younger, educated demographic that viewed the vehicles as an alternative to a traditional SUV. They’ve become very popular in the Pacific Northwest part of the country as well as the Northeastern part of the nation.
The brand message Think. Feel. Drive. seemed to hit the audience the hardest. It’s one of the most known advertising campaigns. Overall, it described a high-performing premium car which offers a nice blend of environment, safety and driving.
World Rally Championship and Records Set
Motorsports have been a significant part of the Subaru brand. From 1980 through 1989, the Subaru Rally Team Japan was led by Noriyuki Koseki. He was also the founder of Subaru Tecnica International (STI). They ran the Leone coupé, sedan RX, DL, SRX plus the RX Turbo during the World Rally Championship.
They’ve also won in the 1986 Safari Rally A Group while finishing 6th overall. They were also the only manufacturer that combined turbo and 4WD since Audi introduced the Quattro system in 1980. As a benefit to Subaru, Audi pulled out of the WRC after the severe accident by Ford and because of other safety concerns in 1986.
During 1990 through 1992, Subaru used the Legacy RS as the rally model instead. They also completed the first season in the WRC with that model as well.
On top of that, Prodrive also raced the WRC cars. They are a successful motorsport team from the UK.
During this time, the Subaru Legacy set several endurance records. In fact, the Justy still holds the world record as the fastest sub 1.0-liter vehicle with no turbo engine. In 1989, it set the speed at 123.224 mph taken from an average.
At the end of 2008, Subaru announced that it wasn’t competing in any more World Rally Championships. FHI said the decision came from an economic downturn. Rumors speculated that it was also due to the new WRC technical regulations and a breakdown in the Prodrive relationship, although Subaru denied those allegations.
Formula One Circuit Racing
For a short time, Subaru involved themselves in Formula One circuit racing. In 1990, they purchased the Italian Coloni racing team. Their B3’s featured a 12-cylinder engine and wore the Subaru badge. It shared the same boxer layout but had an existing design built by Motori Moderni, an Italian firm.
The cars turned out to be underpowered and overweight. That led to the breakup of the partnership before the season ended.
Other Racing Ventures
The import scene and rally racing began to rise in the United States, so in 2001, Subaru released the Impreza WRX. Sports car enthusiasts fell in love with it and enjoyed watching the Rally Team win driver’s titles six times for Rally America.
Since 2005, the Super GT Championship has had the Impreza sedan plus a BRZ entered by Cusco Racing. Then, in 2008, it became the first 4WD four-door to win the race.
Subaru of America became the distributor of vehicles for the Subaru Road Racing Team in 2006. They started with the Legacy 2.5 GT Spec-B. Then, in 2010, they entered the WRX STi for the Grand Sport division followed by the sedan in 2011. At this same time, the stock Impreza (driven by Mark Higgins) set the lap record during the Isle of Man TT.
In 2012, the Rally Team announced they would participate in the Global RallyCross Championship. That team also completed the FIA World Rallycross Championship in 2014.
Higgins again set records in 2016 with a modified WRX STi.
Visitors in Japan can see the Subaru Visitor Center. It’s located in the Yajima Plant and offers plant tours. They also give an extensive explanation of the brand’s philosophy, history and innovative technologies.
The 34,000 square-foot building has two stories. Visitors enter through the atrium where all the significant technological advances are on exhibit. There’s also a 204-seat orientation hall, 14 cars on display in the exhibition halls, and a technology laboratory.
Inside of a recycling laboratory, visitors learn about the company’s environmental efforts. The Visitor center tour is complete with a short introduction regarding Subaru’s manufacturing processes.
Subaru Motors Finance
All Subaru financing and lease agreements go through JPMorgan Chase Bank. They offer several benefits to customers over traditional financing options.
Like many other financing options, they have their own competitive terms and rates. They also have flexible payment options, paperless statements, online access, and additional programs geared toward Subaru drivers.
SMF has a College Graduate Program designed for recent grads. This gives them some perks to leasing or financing a new Subaru. There are also some Customer Loyalty discounts available. These benefits are for any customer that returns for another vehicle. This program includes rebates, loyalty cash offers, and incentives.
If a customer finances a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle through SMF, there are low-rate financing programs available as well. There’s also a Lease Loyalty Program which includes the first payment and waivers.
Subaru recognizes their top dealerships with awards . These are prominently displayed in the showroom and indicate that you’re dealing with a top-notch operation. One of the more prestigious awards given by the company is the Subaru Stellar Performance Dealer Award.
Another one to look for is the Edmunds Five Star Dealer Award. While this isn’t given by the company, it does show a record of excellence from the dealer. To earn this award, they must maintain a high level of customer satisfaction and have a five-star customer sales rating. Currently, there are less than 5% of dealerships that qualify to receive this ranking.
You can also look for a dealership in the J.D. Power Dealers of Excellence. Currently, only one dealer, Subaru of Gwinnett made the list and they are located in Georgia.
4 Interesting Facts about Subaru
1 – The WRX was listed by USA Today as being the most ticketed vehicle in the United States. In fact, Insurance.com stated that over a third of drivers ended up with a traffic citation at some point.
2 – Residents in Portland have stretches where Subarus tend to disappear. There were even months when numbers soared to 90 Subarus per month that were stolen.
3 – If you have a pet, Subaru is the way to go. According to a past Edmunds report, the Tribeca was one of the top 10 safest vehicles to take your pet in. The reasoning was due to the rear backup camera technology at the time as well as the steering wheel mounted controls.
4 – In 2011, the company paired with Gainax, a Japanese anime studio. Together, they produced an online series that was titled, “Hōkago no Pleiades, “otherwise known as “Wish Upon the Pleiades.” This series starred a young woman by the name of Subaru who discovers magical girls. These girls transform to witches and a small green blob that is searching for a spaceship. This four-part series ended and a 12-episode showed up on television in 2015.