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Subaru admits mileage fabrication

Subaru said in a report to the government on Friday that mileage and emissions data for nearly 1,000 new cars were manipulated at one of its plants and that the wrongdoing may have started around 2002.

The report was submitted by Subaru President Yasuyuki Yoshinaga to Tetsuya Okuda, Director of the transport ministry’s Road Transport Bureau.

“I apologize from the bottom of my heart for causing so much concern and trouble,” Yoshinaga told a news conference after the report was submitted.

Yoshinaga vowed to enforce preventive measures. “This is a serious compliance issue. I deeply regret (what happened.)”

In the report to the ministry, Subaru said it examined available fuel economy test data from December 2012 to November 2017 and found 903 instances of data manipulation. The company also said employee interviews led the company to believe the practice went back further but it could not support this.

The data-rigging was conducted during final testing of new cars at Subaru’s Ota plant in Gunma Prefecture, on the orders of the head of the inspection staff, the carmaker said. The misconduct was continued by later employees.

Friday’s report cited inadequate communication and a lack of respect for norms, as well as insufficient internal rules. The carmaker plans to create a manual for the inspection process and step up oversight to prevent a recurrence.

Subaru said it did not believe a recall was necessary since its emissions standards are stricter than the relevant national rules. Exports to North America are not affected since the tests are conducted differently. The company is still examining whether exports to other locations might be affected by the data manipulation.

The revelation is yet another blow to the carmaker, which admitted late last year that they allowed uncertified workers to carry out inspections on its vehicles, initiating a massive domestic recall.

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Subaru trademarks Evoltis

Subaru is advancing into the electric vehicle (EV) sphere and is reportedly picking a name for its plug-in hybrid, which may be called “Evoltis.”

The Evoltis name appears in the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s listings, and Subaru’s application has been filed as recently as March 26.

We don’t know yet whether the Evoltis name would stand for the entire vehicle or its hybrid tech, or if it will be actually used at all. Car & Driver reports that Subaru of America didn’t comment on the matter when asked.

Last year, Subaru CEO Yasuyuki Yoshinaga said his company is looking at electrifying existing models of its fleet rather than designing an all-new line-up in its future technological plans. 

Subaru plans to release a plug-in hybrid at the end of this year. 

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Subaru of NZ launches 2018 Outback

2018 Subaru Outback Model Line Up

Subaru of New Zealand has announced an enhanced Outback range for 2018, which includes three variants in the improved line up –  2.5i Sport, 2.5i Premium and 3.6R Premium.

Subaru of New Zealand Managing Director Wallis Dumper says that the Outback is recognised as the Subaru that has changed the passenger car world. 

“When the engineers created an SUV out of a Legacy wagon over two decades ago, little did they know the impact it would have on the future.  Today SUVs dominate new vehicle sales and Outback has simply grown with that evolution of buyer demand and is now our number one selling model, with 44% of all new Subarus sold in New Zealand being Outbacks.”

“Given how many Kiwis drive the Outback, any change to our top selling model is important.  The new 2018 refresh and upgrade truly adds even more value to the vehicle Kiwis recognise as the best large SUV in New Zealand. It enables Kiwi’s lifestyles, and for them to get out and ‘do’ what they love in a car that can tackle the New Zealand terrain with ease,” Dumper adds.

The trio of 2018 Outbacks further update includes a new feature known as Lane Keep Assist, which can help prevent accidents by assisting with steering control if a driver unwittingly starts drifting into another lane.

The premium variants add a suite of vision assist features and introduce LED steering responsive headlights. High Beam Assist has been upgraded to Adaptive Driving Beam and there is now a Front View Monitor and Side View Monitor in the two premium models.

The stylish interior tweaks include a tablet-type central display, allowing for smartphone connectivity, based on Apple CarPlay™ and Google Android Auto™ services.


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Subaru linked with mileage cheating

Subaru, still hurting from a vehicle inspection scandal, said it is now investigating the possibility that mileage readings may have been falsified during final checks.

Mileage readings do not fall under safety requirements, however any proof of what would be a second instance of misconduct could taint the image of both Subaru and Japan’s manufacturing industry yet again.

The mileage probe follows Subaru’s revelation later this year that uncertified staff had been carrying out final checks on new cars sold in the Japanese market for decades.

Last year a similar situation arose where Mitsubishi saw around 40 per cent of its market value, or $3.2 billion (NZ$4.6 billion), wiped out in three days after it admitted it had overstated the fuel economy of its mini-vehicles.

Subaru on Wednesday said it was checking to see if any possible fabrication could have impacted its official mileage readings and if any exported models may have been affected. 

“At the moment we are trying to confirm whether data was indeed fabricated, and if so, how this happened and which models are affected,” Subaru spokeswoman Miyuki Yasuda said.

She added that any evidence of falsified mileage figures, which show the number of kilometres a vehicle can travel on a litre of petrol, was unlikely to result in a recall as it would not constitute a violation of safety requirements.

This follows Subaru’s revelation in October that uncertified staff had been, for decades, carrying out final checks on new cars sold in the domestic market. The company this week vowed to improve oversight, but it did not mention any probe into mileage readings at the time.

A series of scandals and failings by Japanese companies have surfaced in recent months, tarnishing the country’s reputation for quality control and prompting calls for better governance.

In just the latter half of the year, Nissan Motors has admitted to incorrect final inspection procedures, Kobe Steel and Mitsubishi Materials Corp – all key suppliers of products to global manufacturers – have admitted to product data fabrication.

Subaru’s shares have already fallen as much as 8 per cent to their lowest value since July 2016.

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Subaru boosts SUV production

Subaru announced on Friday that they plan to increase SUV production at their Indiana factory. Subaru will be investing NZ$200 million into the venture, which will also provide an additional 200 jobs.

Subaru debuts the all-new 2019 Ascent SUV at the L.A. Auto Show.


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Subaru dented by quality scandal

Automaker Subaru said on Friday that it’s planning to recall roughly 255,000 cars, becoming the latest Japanese firm hurt by a quality scandal.

The company said they allowed uncertified workers to carry out inspections on its vehicles at its biggest Japanese factory.

CEO Yasuyuki Yoshinaga told reporters that the practice goes back thirty years and that the company didn’t realize until recently that it was breaking government rules. 

Workers who didn’t have enough experience to do checks borrowed Japanese “hanko” seals from authorized employees and stamped documents to show vehicles had passed the tests.

The issues at Subaru were revealed after Nissan reported similar problems last month, which then prompted the Japanese government to request that other automakers inspect their production lines. 

The scandals have stunned the public and have questioned the nation’s prized image for “monozukuri” or craftsman-like quality.

Subaru expects the planned recall to cost it more than NZ$64 million

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Subaru helps out Ironman

Braden Currie wins the Santa Cruz 70.3 in September. Photo: Santa Cruz 70.3

Subaru of New Zealand brand ambassador Braden Currie is just a few days out from competing in the biggest race of his successful endurance career.

Early on Sunday morning NZ time, the Wanaka-based athlete will make his debut in the gruelling Ironman World Championship in Hawaii.

It consists of a 3.8km swim, 180km bike and 42.2km run, which he has been training more than eight months for.

Currie qualified through the world champs after winning Ironman NZ and the Taupo 70.3.

Braden Currie and his son Tarn load their Subaru Outback up with their mountain bikes after a family ride. Photo: Graeme Murray, Filtered Vision

He then bagged the final points necessary by coming third at the Ironman Asia Pacific Championship, in Cairns, in June.

As part of his preparations, he experienced Australia’s warmer climate in Noosa where he had access to a Subaru Outback from a dealership in Brisbane.

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Subaru’s 2018 performance range: first look

Subaru’s 2018 performance range has debuted with technical specs, design insights and pricing info.

The all-wheel drive turbocharged WRX, WRX STi and Levorg 2.0 GT-S displays a number of exterior design changes which include new alloy wheel designs, front grilles, front bumpers and LED headlight designs.

The MY18 Subaru WRX STi.

Subaru of New Zealand managing director Wallis Dumper says that the WRX and STi have gained a special place in their rally heritage market over the years.

“There are a huge amount of safety and specification improvements to the full range of WRX, STi and Levorg cars. These are cars that are exciting to drive and have very little competition,” Dumper says.

New breaking and wheel upgrades feature on all the new WRX STi models, to 340mm front and 326mm rear cross-drilled rotors clamped by six piston front and two piston rear yellow Brembo calipers.

Entry-level WRX STi’s gain heated door mirrors, while WRX STi Premium and WRX STi add the Front View Monitor.

All STi models have also received changes to suspension components and the driver control systems.

Every Levorg 2.0 GT-S, WRX and WRX STI has an independent five-star rating for occupant safety.

The models will come in the following variants and prices; WRX 6-speed manual at $48,990 and the WRX 8-speed SLT at $50,990. The WRX Premium 6-speed manual at $53,990 and the WRX Premium 8-speed SLT at $55,990. The WRX STi at $59,990 and the WRX STi Premium $64,990, both available with and optional rear spoiler, and the Levorg 2.0 GT at $57,990.

Subaru has not yet announced a specific date for the launch of the range.

The MY18 Subaru Levorg.


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Subaru XV update

The Subaru XV has been updated for a smoother ride on NZ roads.

The Subaru XV 2.0i Sport and XV 2.0i Premium include Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive (AWD) with X-Mode, advanced engine technology.

“This Subaru XV arrives at a pivotal time for Subaru, with our sales growing to a whole new level not only in New Zealand but also globally. Outback has carved a hugely successful path here and the new Impreza 2.0 Sport is doing the same, with sales simply limited by production allocation from Subaru Corporation in Japan.” says New Zealand managing director Wallis Dumper

The SUV kit includes X-Mode, which improves driver control on rough roads, steep terrain and slippery surfaces through integrated control of engine, AWD, Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) and braking. The hill descent control setting gives drivers greater peace-of-mind by maintaining low speeds and vehicle stability on downhill slopes. These fabulous features ensure Subaru XV offers a strong, sassy presence on tarmac, gravel and dirt.

Both Subaru XV models sport a 2.0 litre direct injection DOHC horizontally opposed Boxer engine with 115 Kilowatts of power at 6000 rpm (up 5kW from the superseded XV) and 196 Newtonmetres of torque at 4000 rpm.

The Subaru XV is already well established in New Zealand and this new line-up provides us with the opportunity to offer even better value in this growing market segment. Its sales will only grow with the debut of these two new specification and new price-positioned Subaru XV models, which are even more capable of ‘doing’ the Kiwi lifestyle,” Dumper says.

The Subaru XV has been awarded a 5-star ANCAP safety rating, with the latest and greatest tech features, like Subaru’s world-class EyeSight® Driver Assist system. EyeSight® on Subaru XV includes the new Lane Keep Assist feature, which can correct a driver’s drift into an adjoining lane. Reverse Automatic Braking is also added to the new Subaru XV 2.0i Premium ingredient list, together with High Beam Assist.

Both Subaru XV models also feature Active Torque Vectoring, which uses the VDC system to gently apply the inside brakes when cornering during sporty driving. This in turn directs more drive torque to the outside wheels which helps the SUV turn better and improves steering response and control.

New to the Subaru XV 2.0i Sport is Apple Car Play and Android connectivity while the Subaru XV 2.0i Premium picks up Satellite Navigation by Tom Tom, featuring Traffic. This system gives real time traffic information when using navigation in New Zealand’s busiest cities, Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Tauranga and Hamilton.

Maximum luggage capacity with the back seat down is up 24 litres and the length is increased by 41mm. In fact the whole Subaru XV cargo area is wider at the opening, lower edge and between the wheel housings.

The Subaru XV 2.0i SPORT retails at $34,990 and the and the Subaru XV 2.0i Premium has an RRP of $39,990.

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Art Green joins Subaru NZ

Subaru ambassador Art Green with the Subaru Levorg.

Subaru New Zealand has signed Bachelor New Zealand star Art Green to be their latest brand ambassador.

Green starred in the first season of the popular reality TV show in 2015, and has since become a recognised public figure, mainly for his adherence to a sporty lifestyle and paleo diet, and has participated in endurance sports and a charity boxing match.

He said he had grown up with the Subaru brand, and felt it was “the perfect fit.”

“My family have owned Subarus throughout much of my life, so I grew up knowing the cars and experiencing how well they drive.”

Green will drive the Subaru Levorg sports wagon. “We believe he is the ideal fit,” said Subaru managing director Wallis Dumper. “He embodies what Kiwi Subaru drivers are all about.”

The 2.0-litre Levorg has been dubbed by Subaru New Zealand as the spiritual successor to the Legacy GT wagon, and contains Subaru’s EyeSight safety technology and the latest in-cabin infotainment features.

The former Bachelor star will join existing Subaru brand ambassadors rally driver Ben Hunt and Coast to Coast champion Braden Currie, as well as a range of businesses and events, including Coast to Coast and Leadfoot Festival.

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Subaru considers its EV future

Subaru CEO Yasuyuki Yoshinaga said his company is looking at electrifying existing models of its fleet rather than designing an all-new line-up in its future technological plans.

“If there’s already an attractive Subaru model, for example the XV crossover, and if a customer in Beijing wants one but is only allowed to buy an electric vehicle, if there’s no electric version then he can’t buy it,” he told journalists at Subaru’s Tokyo headquarters.

“Providing the choice of an EV means the customer can still desire the same Subaru.”

Car makers around the world are have pledged billions of dollars of investment into developing EVs in recent months as investment in electric infrastructure, such as charging stations, grows.

Subaru plans to release a plug-in hybrid next year and an all-electric vehicle by 2021, and has budgeted $1.7 billion for their electric research and development. However, this investment lags behind competitors like Toyota and Honda.

Yoshinaga is banking on the company’s reputation in road safety rather than its engines. The brand has performed well in Australasian-based ANCAP road safety tests, with every vehicle graded receiving a 5-star rating. The XV crossover, recently released in New Zealand, scored a 5-star rating overnight.  

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