To the Editor:
One of the great stories of the 1990s was the turnaround of the Subaru brand in the United States.
A focused strategy on all-wheel-drive passenger cars and the development of the Outback and Forester vehicles brought Subaru back. In the process, the earliest crossover products were born. We called them "hybrid utility" vehicles, with the look and image of an SUV and the safety, comfort and convenience of a passenger car. SUVs built on passenger-car platforms -- what a concept.
Certainly, the Subaru turnaround was a team effort. The leadership of the manufacturer, Fuji Heavy Industries; the commitment of dealers; and a re-creation of the brand and culture by Subaru of America made it happen.
While a lot has been said about the Subaru story, it would be an oversight not to recognize one person in Subaru product planning who had the vision and created the earliest inspiration for the Outback, Outback Sport and Forester models.
Ron Will designed the earliest concepts of all those products and, working with a supportive team at Fuji, took the concepts through all the development steps and finally to market. In the process, they helped resurrect the Subaru brand and pioneer crossover vehicles, one of the most important segments in the industry today.
Will retired from Subaru of America this month. He deserves great credit for his contributions to the brand and the industry.