Fuji Heavy Industries, which began its automobile business making minicars, is set to stop producing its small Subaru vehicles in February next year, ending a 54-year heritage of doing so.

The company started out with the Subaru 360 in 1958, the first minicar marketed in Japan. Over the years, FHI’s minicars sold well enough, reaching a peak in 1990 when 270,000 units were sold domestically, but in recent times the number has been dwindling – in 2010, sales only registered 93,000 units.

Production of the Subaru Stella ended in April, and the Sambar commercial vehicle – its mainstay product, in truck and van form – will be the company’s last minicar line, sources within the company said. FHI will however continue selling minicars made by Daihatsu under an OEM arrangement.

Once production ceases, the assembly lines for minicars will be redeployed to assemble vehicles under joint development with Toyota, the sources added.