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The History Of Subaru
The history of Subaru began in 1915, under the name the Aircraft Research Laboratory headed by Chikuhei Nakajima. In 1932, the company would undergo a name change to the Nakajima Aircraft company. It would later become a major manufacturer for the Japanese military during World War II, producing a large majority of its aircraft.
By the end of the war, the Nakajima Aircraft Company would reorganize as Fuji Sanyo Co. A year after the war in 1946, the company created the very first Fuji Rabbit, which was a small motor scooter. This particular model was crafted from the leftover spare aircraft parts that weren’t used during WWII. Unfortunately, the company wouldn’t have long before it was forced to disband. In 1950, to even the playing field for Japanese businesses from a competitive standpoint, Fuji Sanyo Co. was divided into 12 smaller corporations.
This could have been the end for Subaru, but the passion and the dream were still alive.
Between 1953 and 1955, 5 off the 12 corporations from the original Fuji Sanyo Co. decided to merge to form Fuji Heavy Industries. The companies that merged separately specialized in scooter manufacturing, coachbuilding, engine manufacturing. chassis building, and trading. All the components needed to make a vehicle. The CEO of Fuji Sanyo Co. at the time, Kenji Kita, wanted the new company to shift its focus to the automotive industry.
The name Subaru comes from the Japanese name for the Pleiades star cluster, and Kenji Kita said that it was a name “he had been cherishing in his heart”. The very first Subaru was released in 1954 as the Subaru 1500, but only 20 were available to the public due to severe supply issues. That didn’t stop the company from designing and releasing multiple cars throughout the 50s and the 60s.
The Japanese government would again force a company shift to Fuji Sanyo Co. when it forced the company to merge with Nissan in 1968. Nissan was able to acquire a 20.4% stake in Fuji Sanyo Co. and, subsequently, Subaru. This union is one that has lasted past contractual agreements; many Subaru vehicles still use Nissan parts today. The Subaru automatic transmission was first used in the first-gen Nissan Pathfinders that debuted in 1986. Subaru was also able to produce eight vehicles during its partnership with Nissan; amongst them were there Subaru Impreza and the Subaru Forester. Afterward, Subaru went dark for some time and being acquired by General Motors before ultimately landing with Toyota.
There was a brief resuscitation of the company in 2012 with the release of the Subaru BRZ, but the company would eventually die out of branding automobiles altogether. Currently, Subaru focuses on refining and selling rebadged products from Toyota. The Subaru lasted 54 years on the market and was able to create and innovate during its time, but that doesn’t mean that the company is dead. Instead of being in the spotlight, Subaru works behind the scenes, helping to revolutionize the automotive industry.