Subaru: The Age-Old Question – Is It a Japanese or European Car Brand?

When it comes to car manufacturing, Subaru is a brand that is known and celebrated across the globe for its engineering excellence, reliable performance, and state-of-the-art technology. However, there has been a long-standing debate amongst car enthusiasts about whether this iconic brand is Japanese or European. In this article, we will explore the origins of Subaru, its manufacturing locations, and ownership to tackle this age-old question.

The History of Subaru

Subaru was founded in 1953 in Japan, as a division of Fuji Heavy Industries. From its inception, Subaru set out to create a car that was reliable, efficient, and sturdy enough to handle the challenges of rugged mountainous terrain. The brand’s first car, the Subaru 1500, was launched in 1954, and it was initially intended for use by the Japanese government.

Over the years, Subaru earned a reputation for its innovation, engineering excellence, and high-quality manufacturing standards. The brand’s signature all-wheel-drive technology, coupled with its Boxer engine design, has become synonymous with Subaru models, such as the legendary Impreza and Outback.

Manufacturing Locations

While Subaru’s origins are undoubtedly Japanese, the brand has expanded globally over the years, with many manufacturing locations across the world. Currently, Subaru has production facilities located in Japan, the United States, Europe, and China.

Most of Subaru’s production takes place in Japan, with other locations producing cars primarily for their local market. For instance, the Indiana-based manufacturing plant of Subaru of America mainly supplies the US market.

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A crucial factor in determining Subaru’s origin is ownership. From its very beginning, Subaru was a division of a Japanese company, Fuji Heavy Industries, which later changed its name to Subaru Corporation in 2017.

In 2019, Toyota acquired a substantial stake in Subaru Corporation, making it one of Subaru’s largest shareholders. However, Subaru is still Japanese-owned and is classified as a Japanese car brand.

The Debate: Japanese or European

So, the question remains: is Subaru a Japanese or European car brand? While the answer may seem simple, there are reasons for the ambiguity.

Subaru is undoubtedly Japanese-founded, operated, and controlled. However, some people argue that the brand has become so globalized that it can no longer be considered solely Japanese. Additionally, Subaru has often marketed itself as a European-style brand by banking on its sophisticated engineering and innovative design.

However, the fact remains that Subaru is still headquartered in Japan, with a Japanese board of directors. Therefore, it is undoubtedly a Japanese car brand.

The Cultural Heritage and Popularity

Subaru’s cultural heritage and reputation for engineering excellence have contributed to its popularity throughout the world. The brand has always tried to differentiate itself from its competitors by providing unique and technologically advanced products.

Subaru’s all-wheel-drive technology has given the brand an edge in rugged terrains, while its boxer engine design provides exceptional balance and handling. Additionally, Subaru’s motorsports heritage, particularly in the World Rally Championship, has helped the brand gain recognition and a loyal fan following.


When was Subaru founded?

Subaru was founded in 1953.

What is Subaru’s signature technology?

Subaru’s signature technology is its All-Wheel Drive technology, coupled with the Boxer engine design.

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Is Subaru a Japanese or European brand?

Subaru is undoubtedly a Japanese brand, founded, controlled, and operated in Japan. However, it has manufacturing facilities across the world and has often marketed itself as a European-style brand.


In conclusion, while Subaru may market itself as a European-style brand, it is undoubtedly Japanese. The brand’s cultural heritage, reputation for engineering excellence, and focus on innovative technology have enabled it to gain a loyal following and achieve substantial success worldwide. Subaru’s global expansion shows that no matter where it operates, its Japanese roots will always be evident in its cars.

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Alton Brobst

As a longtime Subaru enthusiast, Alton brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our blog. From his early days of tinkering with engines to his current role as a certified Subaru technician, Alton has seen it all when it comes to Subarus. When he's not working on cars, he enjoys hiking and exploring the great outdoors.

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