Subaru is the automobile division of Fuji Heavy Industries, a Japanese transportation company. Subaru is the 22nd largest automaker in worldwide production as of the end of 2012.
In 1967, Malcolm Bricklin approached Subaru makers in Japan to see if they would consider allowing the tiny Subaru 360 to be imported to the US, believing it would be good competition against the popular VW Beetle.
The 360 is a rear-engined, two-door vehicle manufactured and marketed from 1958 to 1971 by Subaru. As the company’s first automobile, production reached 392,000 over its 12-year model run.
Noted for its small overall size, 1,000 lb curb weight, monocoque construction, fiberglass roof panel, and rear-hinged doors, the inexpensive car was designed in response to the Japanese government’s “light cars” regulations and its proposal for a larger “national car.”
Nicknamed the “ladybug” in Japan, and ultimately superseded by the Subaru R-2, the 360 was one of Japan’s most popular cars and was available in a single generation in two-door, station wagon, “convertible” (coupe with roll-back fabric roof) and sports model. More than 10,000 were sold in the United States. Bricklin advertised the car exactly for what it was; “Cheap and Ugly.”
The name Subaru comes from the Japanese word for the Pleiades star cluster. Sometimes called the 7 Sisters, traditional stories say that one sister in this cluster is always hiding or is invisible. This is why the Subaru emblem has only 6 stars.
Fuji Heavy Industries was founded in 1915. Subaru cars were first produced in 1954. Subaru of America was founded in 1968 and has its headquarters in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. American sales of Subaru cars and light trucks have steadily increased over the past 5 years with 424,683 sold in the U.S. in 2013.
In 2018, the company released its largest vehicle to date, an SUV called the Ascent, which appears to be popular on both coasts of the US.
Certain Subaru models had owners complaining of excessive oil consumption. The problem was defective piston rings and Subaru was aware of the problem but neglected to inform owners or to issue any recalls. Subaru also changed warranty details without informing owners or new buyers, as well as denied numerous warranty claims, even though the company was well aware of the problem. A class-action suit was filed and Subaru agreed to make repairs. Details and a link to a claim form can be found here.
The company markets and distributes the Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive vehicles, parts and accessories through a network with approximately 600 dealers throughout the US.