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Subaru (スバル, Subaru?) is the automobile manufacturing division of Japanese transportation conglomerate Fuji Heavy Industries Co., Ltd. (FHI).
Subaru is known for their use of boxer engines in most of their vehicles. The company decided to utilize all wheel drive in most international markets as standard equipment in 1996. They also offer many turbocharged versions of their passenger cars, such as the Impreza WRX which is well-known in motorsports, such as rally racing. Other turbocharged models from Subaru include the Forester XT, Impreza STI and Legacy GT Spec.B.
Fuji Heavy Industries, the parent company of Subaru, is currently in a partnership with Toyota Motor Corporation, which owns 16.5% of FHI. The company is named after the star cluster Pleiades, which in Greek mythology is known as the Seven Sisters, and in Japanese the name is "Subaru", which roughly translated into English means, "to govern", "unite," or "gather together". The company logo is influenced by the star cluster. The large star in the logo represents Fuji Heavy Industries, and the five smaller stars represent the current five companies that are united under the FHI group.
FHI started out as The Aircraft Research Laboratory in 1917 headed by Chikuhei Nakajima. In 1932, the company was reorganized as Nakajima Aircraft Company, Ltd and soon became the primary manufacturer of aircraft for Japan during World War II. At the end of the Second World War Nakajima Aircraft was again reorganized, this time as Fuji Sangyo Co, Ltd. In 1946, the company created the Fuji Rabbit motor scooter with spare aircraft parts from the war. In 1950, Fuji Sangyo was divided into 12 smaller corporations according to the Japanese Government's 1950 Corporate Credit Rearrangement Act, anti-zaibatsu legislation, but between 1953-1955, four of these corporations and a newly formed corporation Fuji Kogyo, a scooter manufacturer; coachbuilders Fuji Jidosha; engine manufacturers Omiya Fuji Kogyo; chassis builders Utsunomiya Sharyo and the Tokyo Fuji Dangyo trading company decided to merge together to form the Fuji Heavy Industries known today.
Kenji Kita, the CEO of Fuji Heavy Industries at the time, wanted the new company to be involved in car manufacturing and soon began plans for building a car with the development code-name P-1. Mr. Kita canvassed the Company for suggestions about naming the P1, but none of the proposals were appealing enough. In the end, he gave the car a Japanese name that had been his personal favorite from childhood: Subaru. The first Subaru car was named the Subaru 1500. Only twenty P1s were manufactured due to multiple supply issues. From 1954 to 2008, the company designed and manufactured dozens of vehicles including the 1500 (1954), the tiny air-cooled 360 (1958), the Sambar (1961), the 1000 (1965), the R2 (1969), the Leone (1971), the Domingo (1983), the Alcyone (1985), the Legacy (1989), the Impreza (1993), the Sambar EV electric van (1995), the Forester (1997), the Tribeca (2005), and the Exiga (2008).
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