Subaru ends production of low-profit minicars, will focus on profitable models

Article by Anita Panait, on March 2, 2012

Fuji Heavy Industries, which produces Subaru, is discontinuing the production of minicars to focus on more profitable small and midsize models. The company refuses to expand its production from minicars to large passenger, as it lacks the capability to so. The carmaker is ending minicar production, although they are still widely popular in Japan, where they account for over a third of the market.

Fuji Heavy will terminate production of the Sambar, which was launched in 1961, this week due to low profit margins on the model. The company disposed around 3.7 million of Sambars for the past years.

Unlike Fuji Heavy, other Japanese carmakers will continue to pounce on the popularity of minicars. Nissan and Mitsubishi created a joint venture in 2011 for minicar development while Honda is adapting mini-vehicle technology for larger passenger cars.

According to Fuji Heavy corporate senior vice president Motohisa Miyawaki, the same number of engineers is required to develop minicars as for larger passenger vehicles.

As a result, the company will concentrate on developing horizontally opposed engines, and creating four-wheel-drive and crash safety technologies, in order to develop offerings that would make unique from its rivals.

Miyawaki emphasized that by shifting resources to other vehicles, the company was able to become more nimble with development. An example would be the Subaru XV, built based on the widely popular Impreza.

The company will roll out its latest sport utility vehicle in June 2012. Since Fuji Heavy has a capital and business alliance with Toyota, the former will still obtain mini-vehicles from latter’s subsidiary Daihatsu.

Daihatsu developed the recently unveiled BRZ sports coupe, which is powered by the trademark of “flat four” horizontally opposed engine. Toyota has its own version of the sports coupe dubbed the GT 86. [source: Just-Auto]

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