/

Marking 100 years, Fuji Heavy changes name to Subaru

Kyodo

Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. on Saturday officially changed its corporate name to Subaru Corp., the name of its most popular car brand, to enhance its image and boost sales as it marks 100 years since its founding.

“By changing the company name, we’re making a resolution to take a step forward,” President Yasuyuki Yoshinaga told the roughly 600 employees gathered Friday for the name-changing ceremony at its headquarters in Tokyo.

Fuji Heavy was established in 1917 as an aircraft engine maker. But since the launch of its Subaru 360 minicar in 1958, it has increasingly become known globally for its Subaru vehicles and automotive operations.

The company has been doing well recently, especially in North America, and global unit sales topped 1 million for the first time last year.

More than 60 percent of Subaru vehicles are sold in North America, where the company plans to increase annual output at its Indiana plant to 436,000 units by fiscal 2018, up about 10 percent from 2016.

Sales of its mainstay sport utility vehicles have been brisk in North America, including the Outback, sold in Japan as the Legacy Outback. The company is producing its new Impreza model in the United States.

In Japan, the automaker plans to invest roughly ¥65 billion ($584 million) between fiscal 2015 and 2020 to improve domestic plant equipment and capacity.