Subaru is the automotive branch of Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI), which was formed in 1953 by the merger of five companies that were previously part of Japan's first private aircraft manufacturer, Nakajima Aircraft Ltd. In 1954, FHI unveiled its first automotive prototype, the P-1. Engineered and designed to comfortably seat four adults while providing a stable and comfortable ride, the FHI P-1 would, in 1955, be renamed the Subaru 1500 - the first car to ever wear the Subaru name. The lessons learned during the development of the 1500 led to the 1958 debut of the Subaru 360, which became a milestone in the history of Japan's automotive industry and established Subaru as a builder of small, affordable, yet technologically advanced cars.
In 1972, Subaru took a bold step by introducing the first four-wheel drive (4WD) vehicle designed specifically for everyday driving, the Leone 4WD Station Wagon. Until then, 4WD had been limited to off-road and specialty vehicles, giving the Leone 4WD the distinction of introducing the safety and performance advantages of 4WD to a whole new segment of drivers around the world. Over the years, the Leone 4WD became the world's top-selling four-wheel drive passenger car, paving the way for the development of the Subaru symmetrical full-time All-Wheel Drive system.
FHI has a long tradition of engineering high-performance Horizontally-Opposed engines, which have been incorporated in the Subaru cars since 1965. Later Subaru introduced ALL-WHEEL DRIVE cars, once again redefining world standards in automobile design. Today most leading manufacturers are imitating Subaru’s advanced technology which remains 30 years ahead of the rest.
1917 – Setting up of the ‘Aircraft Research Laboratory in Japan
1931 – Restructured as the Nakajima Aircraft Company that designed the Zero fighters
1946 – Reorganised as the Fuji Sangyo Company. First Rabbit scooter produced from spare aircraft parts
1950 – Fuji Sangyo divided into 12 smaller corporations
1955 – Four of these corporations and a new one merge as Fuji Heavy Industries. The new corporation adopts the name Subaru taken from a cluster of stars, which also become the company’s official logo. "SUBARU" is a Japanese word meaning "unite," as well as a term identifying a cluster of six stars, which the Greeks called the Pleiades -- part of the Taurus constellation. According to Greek mythology, Atlas' daughters turned into this group of stars. FHI rolls out the P-1 as the Subaru 1500 with the first Japanese manufactured monocoque body.
1958 – Launch of the Subaru 360 minicar
1965 – First Japanese automaker to offer front-wheel drive passenger cars
1972 – First automaker to produce four-wheel drive passenger cars in the world
1984 – Introduction of the electronic continuously variable transmission (ECTV)
Today, the company has sold more than 10 million vehicles. FHI employes more than 15,000 people with nine manufacturing plants, selling its products in 100 countries. The company has a long history as a technological innovator and boasts some of the most diversified and advanced all-wheel drive (AWD) technologies in the world.