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Car and Driver: Subaru Parent Fuji Heavy Industries Changes Its Name to Subaru, Corp.

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2015 Subaru WRX

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In what it’s calling an “an extraordinary meeting of its Board of Directors,” Subaru’s parent company, Fuji Heavy Industries decided to change its name to “Subaru Corporation.” If this seems like a case of the tail wagging the dog—a fitting reference, we think, given Subaru’s well-publicized dog-friendliness—it is, only this dog has one rapidly growing, highly profitable tail.

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Subaru is Fuji Heavy Industries’ automotive arm, and in the past few years it has been setting sales records and raking in cash, particularly in the U.S. market. (Subaru is on track to crack 1 million sales worldwide for the first time ever when the fiscal year closes in March 2017.) The rest of Fuji Heavy Industries produces aircraft and industrial equipment, but in announcing its name change, the newly christened Subaru, Corp., describes the Subaru automotive arm as the conglomerate’s “primary business.” Subaru automobiles are also the most consumer-facing goods FHI produces, with more advertising than its military helicopters, planes, and wind turbines, so applying the more widely known name to the entirety of Fuji Heavy Industries makes sense. Just look at Honda, which uses the same name across multiple vehicle and industrial divisions. The name change is pending shareholder approval in June, but based on Fuji Heavy Industries’ breathless announcement, it seems like a done deal already.

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FHI did, for a time, produce a civilian aircraft it called the Aero Subaru and also employed the name in its Power Products division on generators and the like, but now the name will get wider use. Per FHI, the company “is taking the opportunity of the 100th anniversary of the 1917 founding of Nakajima Aircraft to change its long-familiar company name and unify it with its brand name. The purpose of this shift is to further accelerate our efforts to enhance the Subaru brand and achieve even greater growth for Subaru as a distinctive global brand in the automotive and aerospace industries.” The statement’s use of the word “unify” is no accident—it’s a winking nod to the origins of the Subaru name. “Subaru” is the Japanese name for the Pleiades star cluster, which is culturally associated with the word unity. The name was chosen as a reference to the five Nakajima Aircraft–related companies that came together to form FHI in 1953, plus FHI itself, which later absorbed those five companies in 1955. Each of those six components is depicted by a star on Subaru’s logo, and the largest star has represented Fuji Heavy Industries, the conglomerate’s most critical component. Now that FHI will henceforth be known as Subaru Corporation, is it almost too poetic that—nearly 60 years after the first Subaru was built—the company’s various celestial bodies have aligned behind its shiniest star?

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