Winter 2004 Forward to a Friend

The Subaru B9SC was introduced in Tokyo last fall.
A manufacturer can sometimes take decades to make such fundamental changes, with vehicles having life cycles that can range beyond 10 years. Also, styling is extremely subjective. Customer reactions need to be considered because styling tastes can be difficult to satisfy.

Andreas Zapatinas leads Advance Design.
None of this has had a daunting effect on the design department at Subaru. The new Chief Designer of Advance Design – Andreas Zapatinas – and a revitalized staff brought a healthy dose of the "global infusion of new blood" into Subaru called for by Kyoji Takenaka. Regarding style, Mr. Zapatinas has been quoted as saying that he's not interested in being controversial, but that "innovation, courage and individuality" would typify the designs of future Subaru vehicles.

Concept vehicles begin as sketches.
The B11S – "innovation, courage and individuality."
The Global Infusion of New Blood

Kiyoshi Sugimoto, the former Chief Designer for Subaru, has moved to the position of Vice President, Senior General Manager of Product & Portfolio Planning Division and General Manager of Subaru Design Department. Both Kiyoshi Sugimoto and Andreas Zapatinas have set their sights on revising the image that people have of Subaru: By combining traditionally reliable engineering with a greater stress on styling, Subaru vehicles will offer even more to customers.

Subaru isn't depending on Andreas Zapatinas alone to swing its fortunes with changes in design. Subaru has hired a number of non-Japanese designers to contribute to the international flavor of future products. However, Mr. Zapatinas is expected to inspire and lead the Subaru advance design team.

Subaru Design –
International in Scope

Just because the head of Subaru design was born in Greece, educated in the United States, taught design in Switzerland, understudied an American and was employed by Pininfarina and Fiat in Italy and BMW in Germany doesn't mean that Subaru vehicles eventually will be devoid of Japanese styling cues.

"Observe what goes on a Japanese table for dinner in terms of pottery, dishes or trays," says Andreas Zapatinas. "There you have a demonstration of all these elements – the proportions, the textures, the volume and graphic composition ... very unique to Japan and unsurpassed in design sophistication and quality.

"These elements should be in Subaru cars."

The company also has reorganized its structure and its processes with the aim of giving greater emphasis to design during vehicle development. The design group was shifted from being part of the company's engineering division into product planning, where access to customer needs is more immediate.

Kiyoshi Sugimoto heads Subaru Design.
The manner in which the designers interact through their work also has been revised. For instance, once designs for a project have been evaluated and chosen, the designers who made the chosen proposals lead the projects. Previously, project management was based on seniority.

Just as the design group is no longer part of the engineering division, neither is the decision-making that affects styling. Now Mr. Sugimoto and Mr. Zapatinas approve design work.

The Future of Subaru Design

Where does Subaru design go from here? The company has released statements concerning the Subaru brand that reinforce the company's commitment to "fresh" and "vivid" packaging. The vehicles will be exciting and recognizable, which are hallmarks of a premium brand.

Moving Toward Our Goals
Kyoji Takenaka, President and CEO

Excerpt from Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI) Ltd. Annual Report 2003

"The introduction of the new Legacy models is the starting point for the new FHI, and they will serve as the global centerpiece of our product portfolio. Advancing toward this turning point, we have implemented the following initiatives to consolidate our corporate position.

Subaru President and CEO Kyoji Takenaka.
"The center focus of our product development activities is the reform of our design capabilities. While continuing to enhance our core technologies, including the horizontally opposed ('boxer') engine, the key to building brand equity will be to lay claim to world-class design. It is expected that such a comprehensive transformation in automobile design will require from three to five years. The approach encompasses more than just 'improvements' and must come from a commitment to fundamentally re-think Subaru's design culture from its very foundations. One aspect of this initiative will include reassessing our design vision from a new perspective through a global infusion of new blood."

According to Subaru of America design-team members Ron Will, Peter Tenn and Brenda Robert, being a premium brand demands that all elements of a vehicle work together. It requires synergy between marketing, aesthetics, engineering, safety and materials. The recent emphasis on design brings aesthetics into balance with the other elements.

The design team likens the forthcoming aesthetic changes in Subaru vehicles to a makeover – the heart and core technology remain, but the package is more attractive. The aesthetic takes the brand to a higher level.

Another aspect of being a premium brand is that people all over the world recognize it. Subaru vehicles will be identified just as easily in Europe as they are in Japan or in the United States.

The R1e concept vehicle shown in Tokyo.
According to the Subaru of America team and information made public for the 37th Tokyo Motor Show last fall, vehicles on display were good indications of the unified image being developed by Subaru. The B9SC, R1e and R2 shown in Tokyo all have recurring themes in their "faces" and sides. Watch for these themes to be repeated in production vehicles introduced in the future. (See the sidebar "Establishing a Premium Brand.")

The Subaru design team is in place and developing the vehicles that we'll be driving in the years to come. Subaru is confident the result will be freshly styled vehicles that reflect its positioning as a premium brand, with the value, quality, safety, performance and (new) aesthetics that you would expect in a Subaru.

Establishing a Premium Brand –
The Unified Image of Subaru

The front-end styling features a wing motif that recalls the origin of the company as an aircraft manufacturer. The grille represents a cross section of the fuselage in the center and wings on either side.

The sides and rear have wedge-shaped styling. All are wheel-oriented. Notice the fully open wheel housings, which emphasize the Subaru AWD technology and solid, stable stance.

These themes can be seen in the B11S concept vehicle that was shown at the Geneva Motor Show earlier in 2003.

The fuselage-and-wing aircraft orientation is carried out in the interiors, especially around the instrument panels.