LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- On a stormy Memorial Day weekend, security cameras at the Subaru assembly plant here taped a tornado tearing up nearby fields.
The factory wasn't damaged. But winds of change are blowing through Subaru of Indiana Automotive Inc.
The final Isuzu Rodeo and Axiom SUVs are set to roll down the line July 23, marking the symbolic end to the Subaru-Isuzu Automotive joint venture formed 18 years ago.
Legally, the venture ended in January 2003 when Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., the maker of Subarus, bought Isuzu's interest in the plant for $1.
Fuji Heavy Industries is spending $300 million on the plant through 2006. The money is being used to boost quality, increase engine production and overhaul the former Isuzu production line to build a seven-passenger sport wagon. The vehicle will be on a new platform for the 2006 model year.
Production of the redesigned 2005 models of the Legacy and Outback is on track. Quality, which dipped briefly during the changeover in March, now is equal to or better than that of the Subaru plant in Japan, said Tom Easterday, vice president of human resources and corporate affairs.