The world economical downturn has claimed another victim and this time its a well loved brand in the world of WRC. Subaru, a brand whose reputation has been built on the gravel, snow and dirt of world rally stages has shockingly withdrawn from the FIA World Rally Championship. Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd, the maker of Subaru automobiles announced the decision today. This also leaves ProDrive -Subaru’s rally partner of 19 years having to look for a new partner if it wants to compete in the 2009 season. Below is the official statement from Fuji Heavy Industries:
Tokyo, December 16, 2008 – Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (FHI), the maker of Subaru automobiles, today announced the withdrawal from the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) at the end of the 2008 season.
FHI has participated in the WRC together with Prodrive, a motorsports and automotive engineering group in the UK, over the past 19 years to pursue its goal and philosophy in motor sports activities to enhance Subaru brand awareness by showing that Subaru vehicles offer safe, comfortable and pleasurable driving no matter the weather or road conditions, featuring Horizontally-Opposed engine and the Symmetrical All-Wheel drive system as its core technologies, and to transfer results of race-tested technical improvements into Subaru passenger vehicles.
Subaru has won three manufacturer’s championship titles and three driver’s championship titles in its history of rally racing. This has helped enhance the value of the Subaru brand as well as the sales expansion of Subaru vehicles all over the world.
FHI considers it has achieved its original target in WRC participation. However, while considering positioning the WRC activity in Subaru branding strategy towards the future, our business environment has been dramatically changed due to the quick deterioration of the global economy. In order to optimize the management resources and to strengthen further the Subaru brand, FHI decided to withdraw from WRC activities at the earliest timing.
As regards future involvement in rally activities, FHI will continue to support teams and drivers that participate in P-WRC or the Group N category.
President Mori commented that reaching this decision has been an extremely difficult task, not least with regards to the countless Subaru fans that for many years have cheered the legendary Subaru blue liveried Impreza World Rally Car; “We would like to express our sincere appreciation for our fans’ strong and loyal support worldwide. They will remain an invaluable treasure for us.”
Capitalizing on the priceless experience gained throughout the history in the WRC field, FHI will continue to offer Subaru customers products that integrate sheer excitement, safe, comfortable and reliable driving, respect of the global environment and peace of mind based on its philosophy of “Customer comes first.”