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What Does Subaru Know That Others Don't?

Can anyone make any sense out of this?

(AP) (excerpt)

"DETROIT – General Motors' U.S. vehicle sales plunged 49 percent in January while Ford's sales dropped 40 percent, starting 2009 at an abysmal pace for the auto whole industry as lower sales to fleet buyers like rental car companies weighed down the U.S. automakers' results.

Japanese rival Toyota's sales dropped 32 percent for the month, and Honda's sales fell 28 percent. Subaru bucked the trend of declines for a second month in a row, posting an 8 percent sales increase..."


  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,915
    Considering that Subaru's sales goal is somewhere around 200k units, that 8% increase is not all that great. They do have an impressive lineup of cars with the worst being the Legacy sedan, which is a pretty good car. I think it's a small company that is marketing itself properly.

    The key question is, how much money are they making?
  • Well that's a good point you made, so I did check on current "incentives and rebates" on the Edmunds site and Subaru isn't running any right rebates or deals right now. So apparently they aren't giving the cars away, no.

    And true they are a small player....but still, how are they staying SO FAR above the others?
  • As an owner of not one, but 2 Subarus I can confidently say that they are some fine vehicles for the money. And especially up here in NewEngland where the last 2 winters have been brutal, I think there are a lot of people who are buying them based on their all-weather capability. They're a safe choice as far as quality and reliability go too and the safety on them is excellent. I'd buy another one in a heartbeat. :shades:
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,669
    Fuji Heavy of Japan, is running a deficit though. Despite the great sales in the U.S., what with exchange rate problems and all they expect to post a loss for the year, I believe.

    And as noted, a single month 8% increase when monthly sales are less than 17K nationwide is not all that many actual vehicles.

    But they had the right product for the right time last year with the updated Forester. Its sales were through the roof for the first half of the year, and it's still very popular.

    After only one year they totally updated the WRX to address every WRX fan's complaints about the redesigned '08, and they began selling the redesigned-again WRX as an '09 last fall. I bet WRX sales are way up as a result, and it is possible that most of their single-month increase in sales is from that model. There were a lot of forlorn '08 WRXs still sitting around long after the '09s were being sold, so I know the '08 didn't sell well.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • I wonder how we can check that interesting hypothesis---that the 09 Forester and 09 WRX models are driving sales up rather than the regular Impreza, Legacy and Outback.

    In other words is it overall reputation or just lucky product placement that is helping Subaru right now?
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,669
    I also think it is probably likely, although I don't know how I would confirm it, that downsizing out of large SUVs continues out there despite the currently low gas prices. And folks coming out of SUVs might be attracted to the AWD-only, "rugged" message of Subaru, which along with the mostly 4-cylinder engines saves them some gas money while providing them something similar to the type of vehicle they are accustomed to.

    Doubtless crossovers of all makes are benefitting from those customers, but again Subaru doesn't need much of a sales bump to post a moderately large increase as a percentage.

    As for 09 Forester and WRX, I know that the only model that was up for calendar 2008 was the Forester, up a whopping 28% IIRC. And the 09 WRX was bound to be more popular than the soft, low-powered, less-thrilling '08. Also, I notice that for the first time I can recall, Subaru is (or was in January at least) running a promo lease on a WRX. Usually it's just the base models that get the promo leases.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    * Subaru owners are loyal (Forester has won that Polk award numerous times)
    * Subaru owners can afford more expensive cars so they're more recession-proof (not at their financial limits)
    * People are downsizing from big SUVs but still want AWD
    * The new Forester is just a hit, and it only came out in March 2008

    The amazing part is that the new Forester has been a hit even without incentives. A year ago they had up to $2000 cash back IIRC.

    Also, their long-term cash cow, the Outback, is very old, in its last model year.

    Not bad, but they still need a nice update for the Outback to show growth. Forester has traditionally been their #2. They need for the 2010 Outback to be a hit as well.
  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,915
    Below is an article from today's Philadelphia Business Journal detailing the individual model sales (based on percentages):

    In sharp contrast to the industrywide trend, Subaru of America said Tuesday its vehicle sales rose by 8 percent last month over January 2008.

    The car maker, whose U.S. headquarters is in Cherry Hill, N.J., was bolstered by sales of its redesigned Forester, a five-passenger SUV. Forester sales totaled 5,162 vehicles, more than double January 2008’s tally of 2,402. That compensated for declines throughout the rest of Subaru’s product lines.

    Sales of a larger SUV, the seven-passenger Tribeca, fell by 54 percent, from 910 to 415 vehicles. Sales were also down for the Outback station wagon, down 27 percent; the Legacy sedan, down 20 percent; and the compact Impreza line, down 5 percent.

    Overall, Subaru sold 12,194 vehicles in January, compared to 11,289 in the same month last year. The major automakers on Tuesday were reporting steep decreases in January sales, with Ford's sales falling 40 percent drop and Toyota's by 34 percent.

    Subaru of America is a wholly owned subsidiary of Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. of Japan.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Wow, Impreza was actually down, though I bet the WRX model was up.

    Forester more than double, wow. I think that's the biggest increase since it came out.
  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,915
    I finally saw a new Forester up close at the auto show. I think Subaru finally has it at the right size. Plus there is much more room in the back seat than the original.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,669
    Tribeca is way under 10K per year now. Why do they continue to plug away at selling that model? It has become the next Baja. What was its peak sales year, and how many did they sell? I can't recall it EVER having a really good year.

    The new Legacy and (more importantly) Outback come out late summer this year, right?

    I will bet alongside you: WRX was significantly UP, to compensate for low-end Impreza sales falling. WRX sales are traditionally more than half of all Impreza sales, aren't they (2008 excepted)?

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I agree, that's why we own a 2009 ourselves. I had a 1998 prior and the improvements you mention stand out.

    The Forester is shorter in length than a Cobalt but offers as much room as an Equinox. Great packaging.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Well, Tribeca was the key to their whole upscale march, which simply didn't work.

    Subaru was a car for affluent people who didn't want to show off, and suddenly they launch a car that is flashy and upscale. It clashed with their whole philosophy.

    Plus - the market went big and the Tribeca is too small for that class. Successful competitors are at least a bit bigger.

    They need to stretch the wheelbase another 4-5", at least, and offer a real 3rd row to make it stand apart from the Outback. Otherwise don't even bother with a 2nd generation.
  • that's very interesting. Aside from the Forester, which is obviously a hit, then as the Subaru cars gets smaller, the sales decline also gets smaller in relation to the car's size.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Unlike Honda and Toyota, Subaru has (until now) built cars small enough to avoid tax penalties in other markets. In other words, they've had a one-size fits all, global car stategy.

    The US Accord is bigger than the Accord the rest of the world gets.

    That may change, the 2010 Legacy should be bigger than the current model, though I'm not sure if they will produce a smaller one for Japan.

    One weird consideration is that Subaru traditionally has sold more cars in Japan than in the USA. The US is their 2nd biggest market.

    Until they commit and make bigger cars for American tastest, at least.
  • Hyundai sales are also up but they are literally giving the cars away under their new buy-back/return policy within 12 months, if you lose your job. So that sales increase is pretty skewed.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Yeah, and I'm seeing ads for new Genesis models for $27k already.

    I thought they would try to avoid that.

    They spent millions during the Super Bowl, so they won't make a profit selling them at that price.
  • I didn't drive one but I drove in one (Genesis I mean) and I was pretty UN-impressed. It's a car standing strictly on price. Driver thought it was rather gutless for the rated HP as well. Worth the money? Probably. Is it a Lexus or BMW? No, no, no.

    Haven't driven the 2009 Forester but I'm anxious to try it out.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    It handles well for a class that isn't particularly known for handling well. Try the XT.
  • I think it needs work from the ground up.

    I don't think "value for the money" is going to cut it in this atrocious car market. There has to be emotional appeal in there, especially on a car with ZERO heritage.

    Subaru has rally heritage, street creds and people do seem to love them.

    Interestingly, Hyundai didn't even put their badge on the front of the car!!!

    Now that's pride.
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