Subaru (pronounced as SOO-b?-roo) is known to be the multi-industry automobile manufacturing division of Japanese transportation corporation, the Fuji Heavy Industries. The parent company of Subaru, Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI) is presently working in a partial partnership with Toyota Motor Corporation (owning 16.5% of Fuji Heavy Industries).
Subaru is a name known for using boxer engines in majority of the vehicles in their lineup above 1500cc and also for its all wheel drive drivetrain, which was initially announced in 1972. This drivetrain became a standard in the international market for mid-size and smaller vehicles since 1996. Apart from these, Subaru is also known for producing some turbocharged passenger vehicles like the Impreza WRX etc.
The term Subaru is in fact taken from Pleiades star cluster which is named as Subaru in Japanese. This start cluster inspired the company as much to become the Subaru logo and represent the six companies which collaboratively formed Fuji Heavy Industries.
The Fuji Heavy Industries began its operations in 1917 as the Aircraft Research Laboratory led by Chikuhei Nakajima. The company was renamed as Nakajima Aircraft Company Ltd in 1932 and within a short period of time became the sole manufacturer of aircraft during the Second World War. After the end of WWII, the company again went into reorganization process and emerged as Fuji Sangyo Company Ltd. At the end of the war, the company left behind with many aircraft spare parts and utilized them to produce Fuji Rabbit motor scooter in 1946. Fuji Sangyo Company Ltd separated into 12 smaller corporations depending on the Japanese Government’s 1950 Corporate Credit Rearrangement Act, an anti-zaibatsu legislation. Out of these 12 corporations, four corporations including coachbuilders Fuji Jidosha; engine manufacturers Omiya Fuji Kogyo; chassis builders Utsunomiya Sharyo and the Tokyo Fuji Dangyo trading company together with a newly established Fuji Kogyo, a scooter manufacturer merged together to form the Fuji Heavy Industries between the year 1953 and 1955.
Kenji Kita became the CEO of the newly established company and he aimed to involve the company in car manufacturing and within a short span of time plans were made to build a car with the development code-name P-1. The CEO conducted a debate with a view to collect suggestions for naming P-1. However, none of the proposal appealed him and eventually he himself gave the car Japanese name, Subaru (Japanese name for Pleiades star cluster). The very first car was given the name Subaru 1500 of which only twenty units were produced because of some supply issues. Subaru produced a range of vehicles between 1954 and 2008 such as the 1500 (1954), the tiny air-cooled 360 (1958), the Sambar (1961), the 1000 (which saw the introduction of the Subaru boxer engine in 1965), the R-2 (1969), the Rex and the Leone (1971), the BRAT (1978), Alcyone (1985), the Legacy (1989), the Impreza (1993), the Forester (1997), the Tribeca (2005), and the Exiga (2008).