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legal form GmbH
founding July 15, 1953
Seat Shibuya , Tokyo , Japan
management Yasuyuki Yoshinaga
sales 3,232 billion yen (2016)
Branch Automobile manufacturer

Subaru ( Japanese ス バ ル ) is a Japanese automobile brand and the automobile division of the Subaru Corporation , until 2017 Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI), which is represented in Germany by Subaru Deutschland GmbH based in Friedberg .

Although Subaru's largest manufacturer of all-wheel drive - cars , he is very small compared to most of its competitors in the automotive sector, but still highly profitable for years.

Along with Jeep and Land Rover, Subaru was one of the few brands whose vehicles were delivered exclusively with all-wheel drive in Germany until Justy, which was introduced in autumn 2003, broke this tradition by combining diesel engine and front-wheel drive. Its successor Trezia even offered no all-wheel drive. Nevertheless, the portfolio consists of a large number of all-wheel drive vehicles, which in 2008 even produced a boxer diesel engine.

Origin of the brand

The old logo of a Subaru 360 shows six stars in an arrangement resembling the Pleiades

After the founding of Fuji Heavy Industries on July 15, 1953 and the construction of the first automobile prototype P1 in 1954, a name was sought for the company's future vehicles. Because FHI was founded from six reunited companies of the former Fuji Sanyo concern , the first president of FHI invented the brand name "Subaru", which literally means to join or unite and is also the Japanese name of the constellation of the Pleiades . In Japan, the six brightest stars are seen as the well-known constellation Subaru, so this was chosen as the model for the Subaru logo.


The first automobile with the name Subaru was the Subaru 360 , which was built in series from 1958 with a two-cylinder two-stroke engine and rear-wheel drive. Further vehicles with two-wheel drive (2WD) will follow in the coming years. In 1966 Subaru built its first 4-cylinder boxer engine in the company's history, which was initially used in the Subaru 1000 . The Subaru 1000 was the first Japanese production model with front-wheel drive. In 1972, the Japanese electricity company Tohoku Electric Su Company tendered an order for a four-wheel drive automobile to safely climb the snow-capped mountains of Japan and carry out maintenance work on the power lines. In order to be able to meet the budget and car format requirements, the front-wheel drive Subaru Leone Coupé was built and, based on this, the Leone Station Wagon 4WD station wagon with switchable all-wheel drive and boxer engine. Subaru received the order and the Leone was exported to the USA from 1973.

From 1979 the further developed version L1800 4WD was available in Switzerland. To date, Switzerland is an important market for Subaru, alongside the main markets of the USA and Australia; the Swiss canton police also use Subaru models.

With a still clear model range, Subaru Deutschland GmbH was founded in 1980 in Bad Hersfeld , an import center in order to open up the German market. In the same year, the hunter Hans Willibald from Bad Tölz was looking for a suitable car for roads, forests and fields and bought the Subaru 1800 4WD, which was still unknown in Germany at the time. Convinced of the technology, he soon became the first Subaru dealer in Germany. When capacities at the Bad Hersfeld site were exhausted, Subaru bought a 55,000 square meter site in Friedberg in 1985 and relocated its headquarters there.

After the introduction of permanent all-wheel drive in 1987, Subaru consistently developed its concept of the Symmetrical AWD further in the following years . The market shares in Germany, however, remained comparatively small.

In the 1990s, Subaru acquired the naming rights for the Blitzen-Benz from Mercedes. Since then, several sporty special models of the Subaru Legacy have been produced. The name is a myth in Japan, which is why the Legacy Blitzen models enjoy cult status.

Features and special features

Despite the low market share in Germany, Subaru is in the lists of specialist magazines such as ADAC motorwelt u. for years in the field of reliability, workmanship and satisfaction consistently in the top ranks. The Subaru vehicles, which are considered to be durable, also generally do well in the statistics for the general inspection by the TÜV .

Subaru is the world's most successful and largest manufacturer of all-wheel drive cars and by 2008 had already sold over ten million all-wheel-drive vehicles and manufactured over 15 million boxer engines.

Although Subaru is a very small manufacturer compared to its competitors and therefore has a correspondingly small budget for development, Subaru attaches great importance to in-house designs. Subaru is known for its vehicles with permanent all-wheel drive , which Subaru calls Symmetrical AWD (a reference to the symmetrical design of all-wheel drive), and for the use of boxer engines , which contribute to a low center of gravity of the vehicle due to the low overall height and due to the design good balance of mass forces are very smooth running.

The vehicles of Subaru were mostly from 1985, with a hill start assist feature (Hill Holder).

Subaru has also had a diesel engine in its range since 2008. It is a boxer engine with a displacement of 2.0 liters and common rail injection . To date, this engine is the only boxer diesel in the world. After only 12 years, the sale of diesel vehicles is to be completely discontinued in 2020. Likewise all development.

With the exception of the diesel models , with a few exceptions, all Subaru station wagons offered in Europe with manual transmission are additionally equipped with a gear reduction ( dual range ). This is a unique selling point compared to other manufacturers of all-wheel drive vehicles, since otherwise only off-road vehicles are equipped with a reduction.

The frameless side windows were also typical of Subaru, but they have been completely dispensed with since 2009 for safety reasons.

For a number of years, Subaru vehicles of all series could also be delivered ex works with an LPG system if required. In recurring promotions, Subaru also offered these ecomatic versions to customers at no extra charge . However, the LPG conversion is u. a. No longer in the range due to the availability of diesel engines and the homologation problems for the Euro 5 emissions standard.

Subaru in auto racing

World Rally Championship

Subaru Impreza WRC
( Petter Solberg , Cyprus Rally 2006 on gravel)

Subaru has been driving rallies since the 1970s, including the Leone 1800 Turbo Hardtop Coupe (EA81), the Subaru Vivio and the Leone Turismo Turbo (EA82). 1990 Subaru began on the World Rally Championship WRC (World Rally Championship) to participate. Initially modified versions of the Subaru Legacy and from 1993 the Subaru Impreza , which were built by the motorsport specialist Prodrive , were used.

The team and its drivers have been successful several times. So in 1995, 1996 and 1997 you came first in the team ranking. In 1995 Colin McRae , 2001 Richard Burns and 2003 Petter Solberg each won the WRC drivers' championship . In the other years, the Subaru World Rally Team and its drivers mostly finished second or third.

On December 16, 2008, Subaru announced its withdrawal from the WRC, just one day after Suzuki . The economic crisis was given as the reason for the end of the almost 20 year commitment.

Japanese GT300 racing series

Subaru has been represented with a factory team in the Japanese GT300 racing series since 2012. The races of the STI team are contested with a Subaru BRZ 300.

24-hour race on the Nürburgring

Subaru has been active with a WRX STI in the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring in the SP3T vehicle class since 2011 . In 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2016, the works team took first place in their class. In the overall result of 2016, the Subaru factory team took 20th place. In 2016, Hideki Yamauchi (Japan), Carlo van Dam (Netherlands) and the two German drivers Marcel Lasée and Tim Schrick were the drivers of the WRX STI.

formula 1

Subaru entered the 1990 Formula 1 season as a competitor at short notice . The parent company Fuji Heavy had acquired the majority of the Italian Formula 1 team Coloni SpA in the winter of 1989/90 and equipped the team with its own engine, the Subaru MM 3512.

The engine was not developed by Subaru. Rather, the engine was developed in 1988 by the Italian engineer Carlo Chiti in his Motori Moderni plant as a commissioned work for Subaru. In order to meet the company standard, it was a twelve-cylinder, boxer engine with 3.5 liters displacement, which was to be used in the post-turbo era of Formula 1, i.e. from 1989. The engine was heavy, broad, thirsty, and weak; According to Italian measurements, there was hardly more than 330 kW, which was about 110 kW below the specified value and 150 kW below the performance of the competition. In the course of 1989 Subaru tried to get a renowned Formula 1 team as a customer, but it did not succeed. Finally, they turned to the Coloni team, which had been involved in Formula 1 since 1987 and which was in disbandment at the end of 1989. Subaru took over the majority of the shares, but kept the previous team boss Enzo Coloni in office and left operations in the Colonis workshops. They didn't try very hard there; rather, only a single car from last year was inexpensively equipped with the Subaru engine. The result was an overweight, underpowered, and improperly assembled car called the Coloni C3B , which was the worst car of the season except for the Life Racing car. The Belgian racing driver Bertrand Gachot regularly failed with the machine in the pre-qualification. In May 1990, Enzo Coloni was fired and Subaru spent a few weeks trying to structure the racing operations independently. Soon after, Subaru saw the company's ineffectiveness and withdrew from Formula One after the British Grand Prix. The team was sold back to the previous owner Enzo Coloni, who competed with Ford- Cosworth engines again from the Hungarian Grand Prix . Subaru did not look for an alternative and did not return to Formula 1. The Japanese plant did not accept a modern V12 engine that Carlo Chiti had already designed for Subaru. Chiti tried in vain to find other customers in motorsport for the engine.

The Subaru engine was used again in 1992 in a different context, namely in a super sports car from Montecarlo Automobiles . The company, based in Fontvieille , Monaco , belonged to the former racing driver Fulvio Maria Ballabio and first appeared in 1986 when she and Ballabio registered a Dywa racing car for the Formula 3000 race in Imola. On the occasion of the 100th birthday of the Monte Carlo Football Club, Montecarlo Automobile manufactured a closed sports car called Centenaire , which had a V12 cylinder engine from Lamborghini and was sold a total of six times. A convertible version equipped with the Subaru boxer engine from Motori Moderni was presented in Los Angeles in 1992. This was a one-off piece that delivered 530 kW with two turbochargers.


The Subaru Legacy set several endurance and speed records for production vehicles in the 1990s, such as: B. the one for the fastest serial station wagon.

The Subaru Impreza is also used in the GT300 class of the Japanese GT Championship ( Super GT ) as well as in the Super Taikyu series .

Some Subaru Impreza have also been used in the Japanese D1 Drift Grand Prix by Team Orange since 2005 and have been modified so that they only have rear-wheel drive.

In 2016, Subaru America was officially represented for the first time at the Isle of Man TT with a WRX STI Time Attak Car. The British rally driver Mark Higgins set a new lap record on the Isle of Man TT Course with this vehicle. With an average speed of 207 km / h and a lap time of 17:35 minutes, it surpassed the existing record of 187 km / h and 19:26 minutes.


From 2000 to October 2005 General Motors held a 20% stake in Fuji Heavy Industries and several car models were jointly developed and marketed. So was z. B. the Saab 9-2X based on the Subaru Impreza , or the Subaru Traviq (which was not available in Germany) based on the Opel Zafira . The introduction of a new model of the Subaru Justy based on the Opel Corsa and a new Saab SUV based on the Subaru B9 Tribeca were also planned , but this was not realized.

Since October 2005 there has been a cooperation between Fuji Heavy Industries and Toyota Motor Corporation . Toyota has held a minority stake of 16.5% in Fuji Heavy Industries since April 2008. Various new models are to be developed together. As the first result of this new cooperation, the Daihatsu Sirion of the Toyota subsidiary Daihatsu was sold as a new version of the Justy from September 2007. In addition to a production order for Toyota models in the USA, Subaru is also expected to gain access to Toyota’s hybrid technology .

In the past, Fuji Heavy Industries manufactured the largely identical vehicles Justy and Suzuki Ignis (previously Suzuki Swift ) together with Suzuki in their plant in Esztergom / Hungary (Magyar Suzuki ). However, this cooperation was also ended after General Motors' stake in Fuji Heavy Industries ended (Suzuki was also partially owned by General Motors). In the USA the same car was marketed under the name Geo Metro .

Since 1987 Subaru operated a plant in Indiana ( USA ) together with Isuzu as a joint venture , in which vehicles of both brands (and Honda) were manufactured. In 2003 Fuji Heavy Industries bought the shares in Isuzu and has since operated the plant under its own management ( Subaru of Indiana Automotive ). The Toyota Camry was also manufactured there from 2007 to 2016 .

Production numbers

Former corporate headquarters in Tokyo
  • 2000: 581,368 pieces
  • 2005: 591,825 pieces
  • 2010: 649,954 pieces
  • 2011: 580,261 pieces
  • 2012: 753,320 pieces
  • 2013: 808,919 pieces
  • 2014: 888,812 pieces
  • 2015: 914,350 pieces
  • 2016: 950,858 pieces
  • 2017: 1,055,756 pieces (Subaru thus reached the million mark for the first time in 2017)

Sales figures and balance sheets

Subaru is the parent company's most profitable division. From April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015, Subaru generated around 93 percent of group sales with 15.73 billion euros.

In the period from 2006 to 2015, Subaru increased its sales of new vehicles by 36% worldwide. In 2015, over 900,000 vehicles were sold for the first time. In 2017, Subaru produced more than a million vehicles for the first time. With 527,630 new registrations in the US market, the largest and most important sales market, Subaru was ahead of Volkswagen from April 2015 to March 2016. In the much smaller sales market in Germany, Subaru had sold a total of 367,454 vehicles up to December 31, 2015.

In the 2015 financial year, sales increased to 22.2 billion euros, while profits rose by 21% from 1.7 billion euros to 2.1 billion euros.



Subaru models timeline since 1970
Cooperations: GM : 20% Toyota : 16.5%
Type 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 2020s
0 1 2 3 4th 5 6th 7th 8th 9 0 1 2 3 4th 5 6th 7th 8th 9 0 1 2 3 4th 5 6th 7th 8th 9 0 1 2 3 4th 5 6th 7th 8th 9 0 1 2 3 4th 5 6th 7th 8th 9 0
Small car / microvan R1
360 R2
R-2 Rex Rex Rex Vivio Pleo Pleo Pleo
Stella Stella Stella
Lucra chiffon
Small car / minivan ff-1 Justy Justy Justy Justy Trezia Justy
Lower middle class Leone / DL / GL Leone / DL / GL Leone / DL / GL / Loyale / L1800 Leone Delivery
Impreza Impreza Impreza Impreza Impreza
Middle class Legacy Legacy Legacy Legacy Legacy Legacy Legacy
Levorg Levorg
Van Traviq Exiga
Coupe XT / Alcyone / Vortex SVX / Alcyone SVX GT
SUV Forester Forester Forester Forester Forester
XV / Crosstrek XV / Crosstrek
Legacy outback Legacy outback Legacy outback Outback Outback Outback
Tribeca Ascent
Off-road vehicle Bighorn Bighorn
Pick up BRAT Baja
Small van / minibus Libero / Domingo / Sumo Libero / Domingo / Sumo
Sambar Sambar Sambar Sambar / slides Sambar / Dias Wagon Slides
  • Rebadged Isuzu
  • Rebadged Suzuki
  • Rebadged Nissan
  • Rebadged Opel
  • Rebadged Daihatsu , part of the Toyota Group
  • Rebadged Toyota
  • Models worldwide

    Subaru Leone (1985)
    Subaru Forester (1997)
    Subaru Impreza (2003)
    Subaru Legacy Station Wagon (2008)
    Subaru BRZ (2012)
    Subaru Levorg (2019)
    Subaru Forester (2019)









    Subaru Viziv at the IAA 2013
    Subaru B11S at the IAA 2003


    • With a width of 82 meters, Travis Pastrana set a new world record in car long jump on New Year's Eve 2009 with the Subaru Impreza WRX STI.
    • Subaru publishes a car magazine called Cartopia in Japan , of which over 400 issues have appeared so far. In Germany, Subaru publishes a customer magazine called Drive
    • In the US film Wisdom (1986), an older Subaru-Leone station wagon of the first series with double headlights is the vehicle of the gangster couple. Demi Moore and Emilio Estevez drive this through the United States and raid banks to destroy promissory notes.
    • In the 1981 US film On the Highway, All hell breaks loose , Jackie Chan and his engineer and navigator drive a Subaru 4WD Turismo .

    Web links

    Commons : Subaru  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files


    2. Daniel Bönnighausen: Subaru no longer wants to sell diesel cars from 2020. September 9, 2017, accessed October 23, 2018 .
    3. Subaru pulls out of the WRC ( Memento from December 19, 2008 in the Internet Archive ), December 16, 2008
    4. n-tv: Subaru also gets out , December 16, 2008
    5. Thomson Financial News, Japann's Fuji Heavy shares rally on expanded alliance with Toyota group ( Memento of February 17, 2009 in the Internet Archive ),, April 11, 2008 (English)
    8. Some Drive issues for download ( Memento from February 4th 2005 in the Internet Archive )