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Subaru has 100 reasons for a name change

Heavy decision: Fuji Heavy Industries will be no more next year if shareholders rubber stamp a company decision to switch names to Subaru Corporation.

Fuji Heavy Industries consigned to history as Subaru finally comes to the fore

12 May 2016

SUBARU car-maker Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI) will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year with a name change, to Subaru Corporation.

The move will end long-standing confusion with a number of other Japanese companies using the Fuji moniker, while recognising the importance of the Subaru vehicle business that now accounts for about 90 per cent of FHI business.

Planned to take effect next April, the change is subject to shareholder approval at the annual general meeting next month. However, as Toyota is a major shareholder and presumably approves of the move, it should be a formality.

Fuji Heavy Industries traces its origins back to 1917 with the creation in Japan of Aircraft Research Laboratory by naval engineer-turned aviation pioneer Chikuhei Nakajima.

This evolved into the Nakajima Aircraft Company that built military aircraft for Japan from the 1920s until the end of World War 2 when its main factories were destroyed by American bombers.

The company was reorganised and split into 12 companies by the post-war Allied occupation government. However, six of the companies regrouped under the Fuji Heavy Industries banner from 1953, adopting the now-familiar six-star badge based on the Pleiades star cluster that is known as Subaru in Japanese.

Because aircraft manufacturing was banned in the immediate post-war era, the former aircraft development team put its energies into car-making, creating Subaru. The first Subaru model was the 360 mini car in 1958.

The aviation link re-emerged as part of the Fuji operations in the 1950s, and remains so today, with FHI’s aerospace division becoming a major supplier for Boeing, building sub-structures such as wing boxes for current airliners including the 787 Dreamliner.

Ironically, Boeing was the make of the B-29 bombers that delivered the coup de grace to the Japanese aircraft factories in 1945.

Cars are the company’s main business today. This year, it expects to sell more than a million vehicles for the first time in its operations across 90 countries.

In a statement announcing the name change today, FHI said the purpose of the shift was to accelerate efforts to enhance the Subaru brand and achieve greater growth for Subaru as a distinctive global brand in the automotive and aerospace industries.

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