Subaru plans third car platform
Fuji Heavy Industries is developing a platform for cars in the 1.0- to 1.5-liter range, which would allow it to increase dramatically its lineup of Subaru cars.
The current Subaru lineup is built around variations of two platforms: one for the Legacy, Impreza and other cars with engines of 1.5 liters or larger; and a second for Japan-market minivehicles with engines smaller than 660cc.
A new platform would allow the Subaru brand to expand into new segments. The 1.0- to 1.3-liter range has been the fastest-growing segment of the Japanese market over the past two years.
In Europe, Subaru markets a 1.3-liter Justy in low volume, but that is a rebadged vehicle produced for Subaru by Suzuki.
It will take Subaru four to five years to design the new platform, said Fuji Heavy Chief Operating Officer Kyoji Takenaka.
Fuji Heavy will spend as much as 100 billion yen (E900 million) on the new project. It will be the first all-new Subaru platform since 1989.
The Subaru brand is produced by Fuji Heavy, which is 20 percent owned by General Motors.
A new platform would not necessarily be just for compact models. It would also not necessarily represent a third platform for Subaru.
Company sources say the new platform may be flexible enough that it also could be used for larger vehicles, thus possibly replacing the current platform used for the Legacy and Impreza. It will be designed to be compatible with Subaru's horizontally opposed boxer engines, they said.
In addition, the new platform may be linked to a diesel version of a horizontally opposed engine. The automaker is deciding whether to develop its own diesel engine for the European market.