Subaru celebrates 50th anniversary of all-wheel drive


Subaru Corporation is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the debut of its all-wheel drive (AWD) system this month. Since the introduction of the Subaru Leone 4WD Estate Van, Japan’s first mass-produced AWD passenger car, in September 1972, the company has produced about 21 million AWD vehicles to date.

AWD models currently account for 98% of Subaru’s global sales, and all of those AWD models feature the Subaru Symmetrical AWD system fitted with the horizontally-opposed ‘Boxer’ engine.

Subaru’s Symmetrical AWD features a symmetrically laid-out drivetrain paired with a longitudinally-mounted Boxer engine positioned in-line with it. The combination of the low centre of gravity provided by the Boxer engine and the weight balance of the symmetrical drivetrain maximises the stability and traction that is intrinsic to all-wheel drive, offering grip and drive in a variety of weather and road conditions.

Over the decades, Subaru’s engineers have continuously refined their AWD technologies under the philosophy of ‘human-oriented car making’, to deliver a sense of driver unity with the vehicle and create increased ‘Enjoyment and Peace of Mind’.

Subaru is also applying its AWD technology to electrified vehicles as well. In ‘e-Boxer’-equipped models* sold in Japan and other regions around the world, a highly responsive motor allows more precise control of AWD, to create a greater sense of security on low-grip road surfaces such as on snow or ice, as well as enhanced capability on rough roads. Indeed the dual-motor AWD system adopted in the all-new Solterra electric SUV has been developed incorporating expertise gained from the company’s motor AWD R&D initiative launched in 2005.

“As one of the core technologies that underpin Subaru’s commitment to safety and driving enjoyment, Subaru’s AWD system has been continuously enhanced over half a century,” said Tomomi Nakamura, president and CEO of Subaru Corporation. “Toward the age of electrification, we will further refine our long-cultivated AWD capability with electrification technology and continue to pursue the ‘Subaru Difference,’ such as stability, driving dynamics, and handling.”

As ever, Subaru is working to further enhance its core technologies and to incorporate them into future automotive technologies.

The e-Boxer setup combines Subaru’s Boxer engine with electrification technology, with a compact, high-performance electric motor and a compact lithium-ion battery placed in line on a symmetrical AWD layout

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Adam divides his time as an editor between the worlds of aviation and motoring. These worlds may seem a little diverse today, but autonomous technology and future urban mobility is bringing them ever-closer. Adam is also chairman of the Vehicle Dynamics International Awards.

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