Fuji to give Subaru a third car platform

Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. 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.

It will take four to five years for Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., in which General Motors has a 20 percent stake, to develop a platform for "a 1.0-liter-plus model," COO Kyoji Takenaka said at a news conference at the Tokyo Motor Show.

Fuji Heavy will spend as much as 100 billion, or about $835 million, on the project. It will be the first all-new Subaru platform since 1989.

A new platform would not necessarily be just for compact models. It also would 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.

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