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Subaru's fortunes sinking - can they turn it around?

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  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,692
    Well first it was "Toyota took a stake in us, we should be able to share their hybrid tech at a later date", then that seemed to fade away, next it was "we have a great diesel boxer ready, should be in the U.S. by 2010", next we heard "nope that diesel is only OK for 43-state emissions, we don't think in the current environment we want to spend the money necessary to make it a 50-state engine". So who knows. They have already said the redesigned 2010 Legacy that comes next summer will have the same engines it does now, with (my opinion only) the possible exception/likelihood that the new bigger flat-six will go in as the optional top-line engine instead of the current 3.0. At least it runs on regular, but it is noooo gas-sipper.

    I do think the current Impreza is a nice piece of work, much more so than the last model, and as I get more and more restless with the Matrix, I may be making the switch, we will see.

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

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Get an STi they are practically giving them away with 0% financing and rebates!

    -mike
    Subaru Guru and Track Instructor
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,692
    Nah, I am a humble civil servant, so I am waaay at the other end of the line - I am thinking about picking up a 2.5i Premium. In fact, my local dealer has one 2008 left which I am wondering if they would part with for a very healthy discount, as we are two weeks from CY 2009 and they have several 2009 Premiums in stock now, which of course have been improved as they now have a moonroof (they went up in price about $1000 too, so that may not help me that much).

    I am not sure how I feel about the light cream-colored interior though - very easily marked and stained I assume....

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

  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 29,105
    I thought you were big on fuel mileage?

    The '08 is rated at 20/27.. I average 26-28, taking it pretty easy... Torquey motor, but runs out of breath pretty quickly.. not that much fun to shift.. weird throttle response..

    Mine has the black interior, which is not that attractive, but stays clean..

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  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,692
    Yes, I have followed your exploits closely in the Impreza thread, as I see you picked up the very car I am contemplating buying earlier this year.

    Every car built today has a hanging throttle, I got used to it in the Matrix and the RSX before that, and the Impreza will be about the same. If you ever want to experience a REALLY bad hanging throttle, try driving a GM car with the 4-cylinder - I tried out the Cobalt and the Ion and both are the same. You step off the gas and hit that clutch, and wait and wait for the revs to fall, it's crazy.

    I am fairly confident of pulling a steady 30 mpg in the Impreza because of my driving pattern (very little stop and go, mostly suburban and rural for this car, I am pulling 35.5 mpg average in the Matrix, I take the Echo when I go into the city), and I am used to the torquey/runs out of breath thing with the engine, as the 2.2 in my OBS was exactly the same.

    I miss the AWD - this is the first time I have been without it for many years - so that's why the Impreza is in the running. The Mazda3 is also in the running, no AWD of course but it has better mileage and is a more fun car to drive as well. We will see. I may yet do nothing, but the Matrix is running out of good will in my book.

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

  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 29,105
    Yeah... The tanks where I don't run errands on the weekend are over the 28 mpg range, so you may get 30.. but, that would flat kill it..

    The hanging throttle on this model was bad enough that they had a software update... that only fixed about 1/3 of the problem... I've driven other sticks... This is definitely the worst... It really kills the enjoyment...

    But, handling is pretty darn good, tires suck in the snow.. Lots of interior room for a sedan (Except for the cost, I'd rather have a hatch).

    I leased it, because it was dirt cheap... If I had to buy it for the actual cost ($18,500 selling price), then I'd pick something else...

    Good luck!
    kyfdx

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  • I've have minimal complaints about my 07 5-spd hatchback. I can agree with kyfdx that the gearbox isn't great (I've got the S2000 if I want a slick gearbox) and the engine is torquey but winded, but other than that I really, really like the car. It goes through the snow quite well for a car of its size and as a commuter, I find it cruises on the highway with very little fuss or high revs. I think it cruises around 3 grand at 80mph and still returns 30mpg in the warmer weather. Right now, it's been getting a solid 27mpg due to the colder temps and winter gas, but the AWD is worth the mileage hit here in N.E.

    My only other complaint is the cross winds will blow this car around on the highway. I've nicknamed her "Little wanderer" for that reason :) But for the $$$, I could not find anything that competes with it. And, I'd buy another one if I had to do it all over again.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    FWD rallys, no Subaru, is the world coming to an end? :cry:

    Can't blame them, though, the French makes were spending a fortune to win and this isn't the time to spend buckets of money to start winning again.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,692
    Next thing you know Ford will drop out as it gets squeezed in the U.S., then instead of the WRC it will just be the ERC (European Rally Championship).

    And Honda is out of F1 racing. I think the world really IS ending.

    But I will miss the Impreza's face in WRC racing the most. :-(

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

  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 40,788
    There's always the Grassroots Motorsports Challenge.

    "This year it's the $2008 Challenge, meaning that competitors have to produce documents and receipts which prove that no more than $2,008 (not including labor) has been spent on the vehicle in question."

    One example - an '82 Corolla:

    image

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  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,692
    sales figures for 2008 will be published in a week or so. Will Subaru prove to be one of only two automakers who had flat or positive sales results in the U.S. versus 2007? (the other being Daimler, which only increased sales this year by adding the Smart line of cars to the U.S. market, otherwise it would be down like all the rest)

    Between that and the way they got their SIA problems sorted out with Toyota taking a share of the plant for Camry production, we will have to change the title of this thread to "Subaru's star rising - can it ever stop?"

    :-P

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

  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,750
    What percent of the market does Subaru have? Can they ever be a rising star? :confuse:

    I wonder if you have any glasses in your house that are half empty? No for all the years we have been talking I believe yours are all half full. :shades:
  • dino001dino001 Tampa, FLPosts: 3,505
    The raising star was a joke, but I'm totally with Nippon in terms of "half full" this time. I would call it a great achievement if your market did not shrink while others contracted by 20-40 percent, wouldn't you? Marketshare is really irrelevant, but if you insist - if others see sales go down and yours stay flat, it means your marketshare goes up. To top the spin, if your starting point is really low than you see a big growth in that marketshare :P .

    But it's more important if you made money or at least did not lose too much of it. Toyota became No. 1 in US and guess what - they generated their first loss, not a pretty thing considering their big profit projections.

    Flat sales figures in rapidly contracting market show very stable, loyal and relatively affluent customer base. I would venture to say that large portion of Forester/Outback owners park next to their coworker's BMWs and Audis or what not, not because they couldn't afford anything "better", they simply didn't see any reason to. Obviously not all of them, but I read that already five years ago their median income was $70K - I know it's not as much in New England, but it's enough to get you a more expensive car if you live with your parents ;).

    Perhaps a few of those who traded down from truck-based 15 mpg monstrocities were also picked up on the way to build those raising new Forester figures. If you look at the itemized figures, it is basically new Forester that saved them. All other models are in the tank - which is a concern for SIA (Outback/Legacy production). Hopefully new Legacy and the country coming to its senses from SUV addiction will revive the midsize sales.

    2012 BMW 328i wagon, manual and sports package. No. sold in the US: 1. Probably.

  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,692
    All other models are in the tank - which is a concern for SIA (Outback/Legacy production). Hopefully new Legacy and the country coming to its senses from SUV addiction will revive the midsize sales

    That's not true! Impreza sales are flat, which would normally be bad as it was only recently redesigned, but in a market that's down 20% I call that OK.

    And of course the new Legacy and Outback launches next year. The current one is 5 years old, so if that is down in sales on pace with the overall market, I will call THAT OK too! :-)

    I don't know their exact market share, but it's about 2% in normal years. If the overall market is down 25% or more this year, then Subaru's overall share may have gained as much as a whole point, which at 3% would be the largest share of the American market they have ever had!

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

  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 9,722
    the small suv market, cr-v, escape, rav 4. they have become more car like.
    also there are more awd sedans. you get an awd fusion for about the same price as an imprezza.
  • zman3zman3 Posts: 857
    Broken record here....

    Plus they need to get rid of the 4 speed auto already. Five, six, and seven speeds are becoming common. I think it is a crime that they have the 4EAT with the 4 cylinder engine.
  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,750
    I have never denied that Subaru customers are unbelievably loyal. And for such a small company to hold on in this economy is worth mentioning. I am not holding my breath for 2009 however. A small company doesn't have as much wiggle room as something like Toyota. I also realize that the sun belt isn't a prime area for Subaru sales. We don't have many dealers in this area and the need for AWD and the cost isn't justified over all the small car compitition. In the snow belt they have even a more loyal following than Honda does here. I just don't put much stock into calling such a small company a rising star. Parts of Subaru have been bought and passed around too much over the last few years to call them a star.

    But if I lived in the snow again Subaru would be on my short list. I just wonder how they will do next year, or should I say in the first quarter of 2009. That will be a test to see how far customer loyalty goes. Without a spin of course. ;)
  • dino001dino001 Tampa, FLPosts: 3,505
    I think the key word here is debt. If you debt level is low than even tough economy is not going to take you out, as scaling down is a simple excersize of lowering input and output (variable cost reduction) and reducing your fixed costs with them. Conversely, if you lived on high debt, any adverse wind can take you out really fast. Basically, the lever works both ways. So, it's not really the size of the company, but its balance sheet that matters (case in point: GM vs. Toyota).

    I would also be very cautious if not downright skeptical in calling Subaru a rising star - it takes more than just surviving one bad year. But it definitely was doing much better in 2008 than many others, even though I remember in early 2008 it did not look that great: WRX was already a clear disapointment (probably only Mike and Juice liked it ;) ), Tribeca could not find its way back even after a clear improvement (was just too late), Outback and Legacy were already on their way down, Forester was still unknown, the only bright spot then was Impreza 2.5i and to much lesser degree STI.

    Now - can anybody tell me how is FHI doing in terms of their balance sheet and debt levels?

    2012 BMW 328i wagon, manual and sports package. No. sold in the US: 1. Probably.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    nippononly surely said that tongue-in-cheek, he even had this emotorcon after that phrase: :P

    So let's not overreact, folks.

    Still, dino001 will tell you I'm the optimist and even I did not think the new Forester would be enough to offset a lousy market, but it was. I predicted success for the Forester, but I thought the market would be so bad it would drag Subaru down with it. It's in this very thread, actually, right about a year ago.

    If the market is down 25%, Subaru sales thru Novemeber were up slightly, so that means they increased their market share by more than 25%, which is quite a feat.

    Rising star? Not quite. Fair to call them a diamond in the rough, though.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,692
    brings up Subaru's market share to, say, 2.5%, that's pretty significant. It's one of every 40 vehicles sold, and consider that they have a very limited presence in parts of the Sun Belt, which includes California, Texas, and Florida, 3 big car markets.

    Plus, I wonder how much other niche manufacturers have - Subaru's share probably handily exceeds that of Mitsubishi, for instance, and is probably quadruple Porsche's, or more. It handily beats the Scion brand, which has almost twice as many dealers. What other good niche automaker examples are there? Hmmm......

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

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Mitsu is suffering badly, a few months this year even Suzuki beat them out. And Suzuki is sharing parts and costs with GM.

    Scion is really just a sub-division of Toyota, though they up-sized the engine just when the market decided they wanted smaller ones. Seriously bad timing, is all.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 29,105
    Isn't Suzuki going to re-badge a Nissan pickup as a Suzuki?

    That wouldn't be a bad move for Subaru... An AWD-only Tacoma as a Subie.. Heck.. my Subie salesperson has to sell L-M part-time, next door, just to stay busy...

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  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,673
    "An AWD-only Tacoma as a Subie."

    Could work—if it offered the full-time, permanent (AWD) 4WD that comes with the Land Cruiser.

    I've always felt that boxer engines had to be part of the Subaru picture, but I've come to realize that a gas or diesel engine of any type will only be a short-term solution. The future is with electric power. So using a Toyota engine, I could live with, knowing that it's only a stop-gap solution.

    Having said that, I do still think, that if it's badged as Subaru, it MUST have a full-time AWD of some sort.

    Bob
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 40,788
    Tough Love From My Driveway (AutoObserver)

    Tractor? Brazenly cheap?

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  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 9,722
    i kind of think 5+ speed transmissons are somewhat fashion statements.
    an engine with a good torque band doesn't really need a lot of speeds.
    that being said, i like the 6 speed in my fusion better the than the 4 speed in my wife's escape. they have basically the same engine. it's probably just that the 6 speed shifts better.
    does anyone here who lives in a cold climate leave the wipers in the 'up' position against the windshield? (see mustang pic).
    if they are frozen against the glass, it's a lot harder to scrape the ice and you have to break them loose anyway.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 40,788
    Sometimes I'll stick my wipers "out" at the ski hill if it's cold and snowing. I never left my wipers like that Mustang's, even when my cars lived outside in Anchorage. What would be the advantage?

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  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 9,722
    i have seen it done too, but i just don't get it.
    it's not a comment on the vehicle reviewer. ;)
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,673
    Well actually, his criticism on the Forester (and Subarus in general) is stuff we've all been saying for quite some time here on the Subaru Crew; just not with so much gusto.

    What he's missing is—consumers still love the new Forester—even with these faults. This car (and the new Impreza) is why Subaru is one of the very few automakers that will post a sales gain for 2008.

    Bob
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,692
    What cannot be ignored is that if you want an AWD vehicle, the base Forester and Impreza are the only two ways in under $20K new, except for the SX4 which has less power and a very poor dealer network.

    Having sat in these models all back to back at the auto show, I don't think you can deny that the interior of both models is "brazenly cheap", but I have driven the Impreza and I believe it to be an $18K drive for an $18K price sticker, so I wouldn't call its drive "cheap" or "tractor-like". I should drive the Forester some time and see how well it drives.

    This guy also complains about the fuel economy, but really how well are the class leaders doing? I think the RAV4 is like 21/27 to Forester's 20/27, and CRV is at 20/26 isn't it? So Forester is right there at the head of the pack in a three-way heat.

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

  • anythngbutgmanythngbutgm Posts: 4,175
    And it is painfully slow getting it started, but the model I drove also had very low clutch takeup (inches above the bottom) which made it annoying to launch. But once rolling, the vehicle had plenty of oomph for my liking. If, I buy one, I'm gonna see if the dealer can adjust the position of the clutch release.

    I also wouldn't call it cheap by any means. The RAV4 isn't exactly a Lexus and the Forester is nowhere near as cheap inside as the Cheapuinox/Torent. It's on par with something like the Outlander, or the Escape which is acceptable for the under 24k asking price (2.5X Prem. w/AWP)
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