Subaru traces its roots to Fuji Heavy Industries, which was first established as an Aircraft Research laboratory 1915. The company became Nakajima Aircraft Company, Ltd. and became a major aircraft supplier to Japan during the Second World War. After the war, it was reorganized as Fuji Sangyo Co., which, in 1950, was split up into 12 smaller corporations in accordance with the 1950 Corporate Credit Rearrangement Act of the Japanese government. Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI) was established in 1953 as a result of a merger of five of these firms and a newly formed corporation.
In 1954, FHI ventured into car production, with Subaru becoming its automotive manufacturing division. The next few decades would see the brand building a reputation for its engineering and design prowess. The first Subaru car was called the P1, which was later changed into Subaru 1500. It was the first Japanese-designed vehicle with a single shell body. The second car – the Subaru 360 or better known as the "Ladybird" because of its ladybug-like shape, was a market success and stayed in production for 12 years. Subaru launched its first mini-truck, the Sambar, in 1961. Four years later, the company introduced its first vehicle to implement Subaru's airport technology-derived trademark drive setup, which involved a front-wheel-drive system paired to a horizontally opposed "boxer engine."
In the 1970s, Subaru introduced the first four-wheel-drive vehicles designed for everyday use – the GL and DL. In the 1980s, Subaru launched the first electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (CVT), which is found in Subaru's light vehicles until today. The company also supplies CVT to other automobile manufacturers. The 1990s saw the debut of two of Subaru's most popular vehicles – the multi-awarded Outback and Forester SUVs. In the new millennium, Subaru would be widely recognized for the safety features of its models. Specifically, in 2009, every Subaru model received the Top Safety Pick award by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a U.S. non-profit organization that gets funding from auto insurance companies.
In April 2017, Fuji Heavy Industries changed its name to Subaru Corporation.
Subaru first entered the Philippine market through Columbian Motors Philippines in 1996 but withdrew after just four years. It made a comeback in 2006, with Motor Image Pilipinas, Inc., serving as the exclusive distributor of Subaru vehicles, parts, and accessories in the country.
Motor Image Pilipinas is a subsidiary of Motor Image Group (MIG), which is owned by Hong Kong firm Tan Chong International Limited. Motor Image Group was founded in 1986 in Singapore and has since established presence in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, as well as in China and Hong Kong.
At the end of 2018, Subaru had a network of 17 dealerships, of which seven were in the National Capital Region, four in Luzon, three in Visayas, and three in Mindanao. It has announced plans to add 17 more within the next two years.
Subaru nameplates available in the Philippines today include the Forester, the Outback, and the XV in the sports utility vehicle (SUV) segment; the Impreza, Legacy, and WRX in the sedan category; and Levorg and BRZ sports cars. Famous models from Subaru include Forester, Impreza, and XV.
A global best seller from Subaru, the Forester is a compact sports utility vehicle (SUV). The all-new 2019 iteration of this model entered the Philippine shores in January 2019, and it came in three variants: the entry-level 2.0i-L, 2.0i-S EyeSight, and 2.0i-L EyeSight. All trims are powered by a 2.0-liter engine paired with a Lineartronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) and come with symmetrical all-wheel drive configuration as standard.
The Impreza is a compact car that has been rolling out of Subaru factories since 1992. Locally, it is offered in four variants, namely Impreza 2.0i, Impreza 2.0i Sport, Impreza 1.6i and Impreza 1.6i Sport. The model is available in two engine options: a 1.6-liter or a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, direct fuel injection, DOHC 16-valve petrol engine that is mated to a Lineartronic CVT. All variants feature an all-wheel drive setup.
The XV is a compact crossover with attributes that make it seem like a full-fledged SUV. It is known to be one of the safest crossovers available in the market today. Under the hood is a 2.0-liter DOHC flat-four boxer mated to a Lineartronic CVT. This model also comes with an all-wheel drive system as standard.
Subaru has four plants in Japan, namely Gunma Plant, Yajima Plant, Ota North Plant, and Oizumi Plant. The Gunma Plant, a 332,000sqm facility in a 585,000sqm land area, serves as Subaru's main plant. The site manufactures the BRZ, Impreza, Levorg, WRX, and XV. The Yajima Plant is responsible for producing the Forester, Impreza, Legacy, Outback, and XV. It occupies a 550,000sqm land area with the buildings area measuring 259,000sqm. The Oizumi Plant, on the other hand, manufactures automobile engines and transmissions. The facility covers 304,000sqm of land area and 229,000sqm of building area. Lastly, there's the Ota North Plant which occupies only 44,000 sqm of land area and 25,000 sqm of building area. It has one overseas manufacturing factory – the Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc. – located in Lafayette, Indiana.