The exact beginnings of Subaru, Fuji Heavy Industries' car manufacturing division, date back to 1917, when the company began operations as an aircraft research centre. By 1932 the company, then known as the Nakajima Aircraft Company, was reorganised as Japan's primary aircraft manufacturer during World War II. By the end of the war, the company was again reorganised and renamed Fuji Sangyo Co. in 1946.
Following a number of divisions taking place within the company, by 1955 a new corporation was formed - Fuji Heavy Industries - the Japanese transportation conglomerate as it is still known to this day. Following the merger, the company's then CEO, Kenji Kita, was keen on the company getting involved in manufacturing cars. Plans were soon set in motion to produce the company's first car, the Subaru 1500 (though only twenty 1500s were ever produced, due to problems with supplies).
In 1958, Fuji Heavy Industries released the Subaru 360 - Japan's answer to producing an inexpensive, small car at a time when most Japanese people were unable to afford their own mode of transport. The 360 quickly went on to become one of Japan's most popular cars and set the benchmark for future Subaru sales.
In the years that have followed, the car manufacturer has continued to release a number of notable Subaru models, including the Sambar in 1961, the R-2 in 1969, the Leone and the Rex in 1971, the BRAT in 1978, the Alcyone in 1985, the Legacy in 1989, the Impreza in 1989, the Forester in 1997 and more recently the Subaru Exiga in 2008. Many of these models can be obtained as used Subaru cars.
Some of Subaru's more recent accomplishments include its environmental record; the company's Lafayette plant in Indiana, USA was the first car production plant to achieve zero landfill status. Some Subaru cars are also produced as Partial Zero Emissions Vehicles, in the company's Forester, Outback and Legacy ranges.