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Subaru's Relationship with General Motors


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21 replies to this topic

#1 Nickshu

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Posted 18 October 2003 - 04:54 AM

So I've been reading and learning about Subarus as I contemplate my upcoming purchase. Its truly amazing how powerful a resource automotive BBS's are. If only automakers would poll them for design decisions and reliability research!

My question:
I have read here about Subaru and GM having some ownership overlap.

What is the current relationship between Subaru and GM? How has this impacted Subaru's products so far? How do things look for the future?

#2 Subarunation 713

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Posted 18 October 2003 - 08:04 AM

GM owns a 10% interest in Fuji Heavy Industries. Fuji Heavy Industries is the parent of Subaru. Subaru is one of the five stars in the Subaru emblem (what the other 4 are I can't tell you off the top of my head).

There was much dismay on this board when it was anounced the "General" was going to be part of the family. All we could think of was GM's moments of glory. Perhaps you can recall a few: the Corvair, Chevette, Citation, Cadillac Cimaron and their renowned customer service and great paint jobs. There was the thought of GM's great design team "helping out" little ol Subaru and the thought of the Aztek, Avalanche, Cadillac STS and the havoc they could unleash on a Legacy or Impreza.

No dealer network is ideal but they are much less ideal when GM is in the picture. So far GM has had too much fun with the Hummer H2 to stir up Subaru but I fear one day the "General" will say "Boys, lets go help out the Japs and fix that Subaru up. It needs more body cladding, a V-8, and a front end that looks like a snow plow. Oh, and it only need to get about 14 mpg".

#3 Setright

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Posted 18 October 2003 - 08:45 AM

Subarunation, I beg to differ:

GM owns a 20% stake in Subaru, the car manufacturer, not FHI.

Also, the Subaru emblem has SIX stars. And the whole constellation is known as....Subaru!


Otherwise, I do agree with the derogatory comments on GM. The clutch judder situation is evidence of short-sighted penny pinching by GM :temper:

#4 Nickshu

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Posted 18 October 2003 - 11:38 AM

Good comments guys. I am a longtime Saab owner, and soon will most likely be moving over to Subaru.

GM bought 50% of Saab in 1991 and 100% in 1998. Since then they have basically destroyed the cars. They went from aluminum to cheap cast-iron blocks, cheap and crappy GM parts like plastic idler pulleys that fail every 15K, and cable clutches that feel like sandpaper, to name afew.
Most annoying though, they took all the utility out of the cars by eliminating all hatchbacks, which is the design that made Saab popular in the 1980's, and made the car a great all around vehicle.

What is interesting is that Subaru has that same utilitarian niche market as an all-around vehicle. It will be interesting to see if GM takes Subaru by the ears and says "you will be assimilated"....by eliminating wagons, manual transmissions, and any unique, useful, or original brand-design that its loyal owners hold dear.

Its sad that few (or no) automakers are happy supporting a niche-market. They all seem so intent on just trying to get bigger at all costs....including alienation of the loyal buyers that made them what they are.

Lets hope Subaru stays like it is with its off-the-beaten path design philosophy.

Keep the comments coming. I like these discussions!

#5 GLCraig

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Posted 18 October 2003 - 12:16 PM

Actually GM owns 20% of Fuji Heavy Industries. Here's a link to the press release on FHI web site.

http://www.fhi.co.jp...2_10gm_news.htm

#6 VaporTrail

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Posted 18 October 2003 - 12:19 PM

an because of the GM-Saab connection, there is supposed to be a Saab 9-2 I think that will have sooby running gear......

#7 kgb4187

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Posted 18 October 2003 - 12:30 PM

Actually the emblem has 7 stars :D

#8 Nickshu

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Posted 18 October 2003 - 01:01 PM

Yep....you're right Brat. The 9-2 is supposed to share some Subaru parts. Not going to surface for a couple years though.

#9 Subarunation 713

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Posted 18 October 2003 - 04:17 PM

Sorry for the wrong percentage (10/20) on the ownership issue.

As for the star part I was always told the 5 small stars were the divisions and the big star was the parent company. I was also told there was a Santa Claus and an Easter Bunny and just this year I learned Santa was a myth. Don't worry, I am still holding on to the idea of a Bunny that lays chocolate eggs.

In the event you want the "latest" on the stars here is a press release:

http://www.fhi.co.jp...3_07_30e_lg.htm

Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (FHI), a global manufacturer of transportation and aerospace-related products and the maker of Subaru automobiles, today announced its decision to adopt the 6-star ("mutsuraboshi") Subaru automobile emblem design as its new corporate symbol. Effective July 15, 2003, which is the 50th anniversary of the company's founding, FHI introduced its new corporate symbol as well as a new logo design that employs the current SUBARU logo typeface. The company has begun using both the new symbol and logo to further fortify its brand image and awareness on a global basis. . . .

#10 wrxsubaru

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Posted 20 October 2003 - 05:45 PM

I thought GM needs to own more than 20% to have any control over subaru. I always hear that subaru wont let GM "help" them for there enginearing.

#11 DerFahrer

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Posted 20 October 2003 - 11:38 PM

Right. GM has no control over Subaru engineering at all, they just borrow some of its ideas, for instance, McBrat's mention of the upcoming Saab 9-2 which is basically a rebadged WRX wagon. Also the Chevy Borrego concept used a JDM WRX motor and AWD.

The emblem and Subaru name were developed around one event. FHI was actually the merger of five different mergers. The word "Subaru" means unite and it is also a constellation the Greeks called Pleiades. Therefore the company chose to "subaru" or unite, and used the astrological symbol of unification, the Pleiades constellation. I gathered this from Mitchell's site who had a 91 JDM wagon while he was stationed in Okinawa...

#12 Ranger83

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Posted 21 October 2003 - 09:42 AM

GM also owns the plant in Indiana where some Subarus and Isuzus are made. They own 50% of Isuzu.

GM bought 50% of Saab in 1991 and 100% in 1998. Since then they have basically destroyed the cars.


I have a different perspective. IMHO the SAAB was already obselete and had other quality problems.

Moving their cars to the well developed Opel chassis was one of the ways to save the marque, while updating the running gear without spending the $1-3 billion it takes to develop a new car model.

I admit to a jaundiced view, I think SAAB lost most of their uniqueness with the introduction of the 99. I haven't owned one since my completely rebilt 1969 96 got hit by a Checker cab in 1978.

#13 nipper

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Posted 21 October 2003 - 08:19 PM

Saab/gm/sooby ... in the automtive press its been interesting.
Originally a sooby was supposed to be a replacement for the cavalier.
GM came up with the wonderful ideal of taking a sooby and making it a Saab. The only problem is that GM never asked sooby or saab about it. At this time neither is happy that the parent has forced them to play nice together. Saab also is not at all happy about having an (rebaged) SUV shoved down their throat. The days of Saab's uniqness may be numbered. Odd how evertime GM Eurpoean division head gets involved in something (which is where Saab falls under), it get greatly messed up.

#14 nipper

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Posted 21 October 2003 - 08:22 PM

oh about the Sooby emblem .... i forget where i heard this. It's been called a map of the universe so that the sooby engineers can fiond thier way back to the home planet:

clap:

#15 csomole

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Posted 21 October 2003 - 09:05 PM

I just found this article on long-term Sube plans. It is from May, but may be news for others too.
http://forums.nasioc...d/t-363848.html

#16 lsr3177

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Posted 22 October 2003 - 12:16 AM

I agree with Ranger83. the saab 96's were quite unique. Four speed on the column, free wheeling drive and interesting handling. They were a lot of fun. I purchased a 1967 used in '98 and a slightly used 1971 in '72. Both had the german ford V-4 engines. The '71 ran until the middle '80's without engine work and at 165,000 miles wasn't burning oil. It just rusted away and was sold to a college student for $300. It always started in the cold MN winters and handled the snow quite well.

#17 cookie

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Posted 22 October 2003 - 12:36 AM

was a 96 with the three cylinder, three carb Monte Carlo engine.
I rolled it end over end off an 18 foot drop practiceing for a Rally and we rolled it back over and drove it home with no windows.
They certainly were unique.

#18 calebz

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Posted 22 October 2003 - 08:49 AM

I disagree that saab lost its uniqueness with the advent of the 99. I have had one 99, 8 900's and 2 9000's. All turbo. I have also had an ungodly amount of various american cars as well as a few japanese and other euro cars thrown in for flavor. Love them or hate them, they are (were) unique.

As far as saab and soob not being asked if they wanted to play together. .. well in the case of saab, that is wholly appropriate, being a 100% GM owned company (for those that don't like that, just remember that they didn't have to sell to GM.. they could have just gone out of business). In the case of subaru, GM has to ask first. they don't own anything near a controlling percentage of the stock to go making arbitrary decisions about what is going to be done with FHI designs.

I personally like the old 95 wagon style. The stock 65 HP out of the V4 isn't enough though. I have always wanted to get one and put an EA82T in it.. perhaps even an EJ motor. Before any pipes up and says I'm nuts, there is a guy in Oregon that has already put a soob motor in a saab sonnet.. so it can be done.
And if you look at the way things are situated under the hood of a 95/96, you'll see that it is just asking for a flat 4

#19 Nickshu

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Posted 23 October 2003 - 03:24 AM

You all are right, Saab would be out of business if it weren't for GM. The same goes for Land Rover (BMW and now Ford), Jaguar (Ford), and probably Opel (GM -- Saturn!), and Volvo (Ford).

However, for auto-buffs like me, I love cars that are off the beaten path, and am sad to see the demise of so many niche market autos. I hope Subaru isn't next.

Ive had 5 Saabs (3 9000's, 1 classic 900 and 1 NG900). They have all been great cars, but at times challenging! But now they are just becoming rebadged Saturns (with some refinements of course), and since Saturns are just rebadged Opels, that makes current Saabs the 2 times over redheaded stepchildren! (I know Im exaggerating here, but you get the point!)

In the same way Jaguar is in the same boat with the S and X-types basically being a souped up Taurus. And the engine cross overs....ugh.
And Volvo....it will be interesting to see where that goes.

Long live Subaru....the last of the niche market cars. Lets hope the next Subaru isn't front wheel drive with a GM V8 under the hood and no more boxers!

#20 Deltree

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Posted 23 October 2003 - 06:42 AM

Just what i heard from a friend from Japan about the stars logo

"In 1994 I was told that"----
There a five stars on the logo that stand for the sub companies that make the parts for the cars
hence creating the largest star
Subaru
with a grand total of 6 stars(5 small and 1 big)

As for the logo used on this web page - maybe the extra star is for the usmb :banana:

#21 cookie

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Posted 23 October 2003 - 10:44 AM

new.
GM started the Aussie Holden as a rebadged Chevy and BMW and Datsun started with rebadged Austins.
I have driven the same engine in a Chevy six, a Holden, a Vauxhall, and an Opel.
What really matters is what the company does with the parts.
The Aussie Holdens I drove a while ago were much better cars that the nearly identical Chevys.
The Falcon GT was one hot four door in Oz and Kiwi, and the Cortina my father in law had was the best Pinto engined car I have ever seen. It cruised at 80, had good sway bars for Kiwi roads, double insulation for silence, and a real leather and wood interior worthy of a Jag.
I hear raves about the Ford engine Jags form thier owners.
Maybe Subaru will actually improve given access to these components.
He said optimistically.

#22 wrxsubaru

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Posted 23 October 2003 - 09:02 PM

Jaguar when bought by ford only improved becasue they were probley the most unrelible cars on the road that were being sold. One of my friiends works at a jaguar dealler as a mechanic and he said he has replcaed 5 auto trannies in the new S type(all under 15,000 miles), and there not easy at all the replace, you have to take out the whole front subaframe with the enigne and tranny.
If GM starts to make desicons for subaru i dont subarus reliblity or performance would improve. GM cant even get there daytime running lights to work for more than a year. A GM in a GM add has one of its daytime running lights burned out, and the car is sposer to be brand new:( .




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