Committed to the conservation of the global environment, Subaru and its parent company,
Fuji Heavy Industries LTD. (FHI), have initiated a multiyear FHI Environment Conservation
Program. It expands aggressive environmental work begun by FHI in 1990. (Read about
efforts made by Subaru since the 1960s in the Subaru Environmental Chronology.)
Work on environmental issues is reflected in the company’s current Corporate Philosophy, Environmental Policy and Operating Criteria for Environmental Conservation. Subaru of America has committed manpower, time and planning to carry out these initiatives. With its work being revolutionary in scope as well as evolutionary in process, Subaru has committed to responsibilities and deadlines beyond legislated governmental requirements.
The Subaru Environmental Conservation program impacts the entire life cycle of a Subaru vehicle, from development and design, through production, utilization and, finally, the end of the vehicle’s life. Some initiatives are obvious, such as improving fuel economy and lowering emissions. Other initiatives such as the introduction of unique hybrid vehicles have had more recent exposure, helping to raise public awareness. Still others – recycling, in particular – are less publicized, yet far-reaching.
Vehicle Operation –
Fuel Economy, Exhaust Emissions and Noise
Subaru continually improves technologies that address traditional owner concerns about fuel mileage, the air we breathe and vehicle noise.
Fuel economy: Some gasoline-powered Subaru vehicles already meet fuel-economy standards set for 2010 and have done so since 2000. In all of its vehicles sold worldwide, Subaru is attempting to meet these standards by 2006. Subaru uses engine technologies that deliver the most mileage from every drop of fuel and designs the entire drivetrain function efficiently.
Emissions: Subaru engines are designed to run with very low emissions. Among the most recently introduced Subaru vehicles, the new Legacy and 2.5-liter Outback models meet stringent standards required by a number of states where these Super-Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (SULEV2) are certified as Partial Zero Emission Vehicles (PZEV).
Noise reduction: One sign of a premium vehicle is its provisions for reducing noise. Subaru engineers attempt to reduce noise through insulation and component design.
Clean Energy Vehicles
Hybrid Vehicles the Subaru Way
Subaru continues development of clean-energy vehicles, which emit little, if any, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide or other chemicals that may contribute to global warming or pollution. Testing includes electric- and natural-gas-powered vehicles.
In May 2002, Fuji Heavy Industries teamed with NEC Corporation to establish NEC Lamillion Energy, Ltd. The new company’s purpose is to merge technologies, combining laminate-type manganese lithium-ion battery cell technology from NEC with automotive combination battery technology from FHI. NEC Lamillion Energy is developing secondary batteries for hybrid, electric and fuel cell electric vehicles of the future. These batteries will be thinner, lighter and cheaper than existing batteries, yet perform better. This technology is showcased in the Subaru B9SC concept car as part of its Sequential Series Hybrid Electric Vehicle (SSHEV) powertrain.
Conservation of the environment requires recycling. Subaru tries to make recycling efficient and cost-effective at every point in its vehicles’ life spans. Recycling efforts begin in development and design, then continue through production and use. At the end of a vehicle’s service life, Subaru employs technologies that efficiently reuse the maximum amount of the materials from it.
Vehicle development and design: As it plans vehicles, FHI takes into consideration a recycling-oriented society 15 years in the future. Studies of current recycling efforts indicate how vehicles might be designed to be easily dismantled at end-of-life. Parts are labeled as to composition – something Subaru started to do in 1973. More recently, coding that indicates composition is placed on component exteriors to make them easier to sort. In addition, air-conditioning systems and air bags are designed for easier dismantling.
Subaru has substantially reduced the use of substances that have harmful environmental impacts. These include lead, asbestos, cadmium and its compounds, chromium compounds and mercury and its compounds.
Today’s Subaru vehicles utilize recycled materials from other industries as well as their own. Recycled materials include plastic bottles used as insulation, plastic bumper waste as bumpers, scraps from clothing manufacturers as base trim layers, and paint sludge and used paper as vibration-absorbing door panels. Engine covers are made from nylon resin reused from the fishing industry.
Vehicle Production: FHI facilities recycle materials to help reduce waste and pollution. More vehicle components are manufactured using materials of the same composition, making recycling efforts easier and producing parts with less waste. At the end of the vehicles’ lives, the same materials can be recycled into parts for the next generation of vehicles.
For bumpers, Subaru developed a proprietary technology that removes paint film, allowing easier bumper recycling. Waste from manufacturing seat covers, instrument panels and door trim is pulverized and mixed to be molded into interior parts such as side covers for seats and inner parts of glove compartments.
Throughout production, suppliers help reduce waste by shipping parts in recyclable multipurpose packaging. Shipping crates are designed to fold and be returned to suppliers to be used over and over again.
End-Of-Life Vehicles: Subaru has developed technologies for end-of-life vehicles, including processes and procedures for recovering and destroying fluorocarbons and scrapped bumpers as well as processes for activating air bags without undue noise.
Subaru also is developing tools and equipment for recycling auto glass and is experimenting with possible products using the recycled glass materials. In addition, the company is trying to find ways to reduce automobile shredder residue – the materials left over when the remaining parts of a vehicle are shredded.
The environmental work that Subaru began decades ago most likely never will be completely finished. That’s a challenge when marshaling the forces of heavy industry to be environmentally responsible.
The work that Subaru does for environmental conservation pervades every aspect of business and manufacturing. From the functioning of catalytic converters and lithium batteries, to the packaging used by suppliers, to the recycling of bumpers, Subaru tries to make every aspect of its presence in the community healthy and helpful.
Environmental efforts by Subaru include affiliations with organizations that also are concerned with such issues. One of these affiliates is Leave No Trace. Read more about the work that Subaru is doing with Leave No Trace.
Another online exclusive pertaining to Subaru and the environment is a glossary of terms related to environmental conservation.