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History & Heritage

The Origins of Subaru

Subaru is the Japanese name for Pleiades, a collection of stars which form the shoulder of the Taurus constellation. Six of these stars are visible to the naked eye, but through a telescope approximately 250 bluish stars can be seen. Subaru is also the Japanese term for “unite”.

The origins of the maker of Subaru vehicles, Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI), date back to the 1917 founding of the Nakajima Aircraft Co. Ltd. – in its day the largest aircraft manufacturer in Asia. After World War II, the Nakajima Aircraft Company was reorganised as Fuji Sangyo Co. Ltd. The company was then divided into 12 separate companies in 1950 and shortly thereafter, on 15 July 1953, five of those companies merged to form Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. The aircraft technology and expertise gained from the Nakajima Aircraft Co. Ltd. was refocused to produce cars, with the very first being the Subaru 360.

Today, FHI is still actively involved in the aeronautical industry. Its activities include helicopter construction for the Japanese Defence Force and Coast Guard. FHI is the only attack helicopter manufacturer in Japan and has also played significant international aeronautical roles as the company that built the centre wings for the Boeing 777 and 787 Dreamliner airliners.

In 2017, Fuji Heavy Industries changed its name to Subaru Corporation to reflect its new focus on automotive and aerospace sectors only.

Subaru in Southern Africa


Subaru Southern Africa is wholly owned by Toyota Tsusho Corporation Japan and its local subsidiary Toyota Tsusho Africa, represented by 15 dealerships and three standalone service centres in Southern Africa. It imports, distributes and markets the Subaru brand, including the Impreza, XV, Forester, Outback, Legacy, WRX, and WRX STI – all products of Subaru Corporation of Japan.

The first Subarus were imported into South Africa in 1992. The vehicles are unique for their Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive (SAWD) System and Boxer engine combination, providing the highest level of active and passive safety – in world-class comfort, on all road surfaces and in all weather.

With the introduction of EyeSight into the South African market in 2017, Subaru South Africa was able to bring the world’s first camera-based driver assistance technology into the Crossover and Sedan segments with the launch of the XV and Impreza models.