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

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  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,669
    Not really sure why we would be expecting shift quality no better than cars from 40 years ago, Bob...

    ...but I certainly do expect it to be a lot better than "back in the day"...

    ...in the 60s we had first gears without synchros, now that was fun. That ALSO would be totally unacceptable to me in a 2008 model, but that doesn't mean I think every transmission today is fab just because it has synchros on first gear.

    Juice: I like your "picture is worth 1000 words" demonstration, it is very telling. So the only reason they give you the standard shifter is so it transmits less vibration from the drivetrain? I can appreciate that but there must be some way of accomplishing that objective without putting in a tall, moderately sloppy shifter.

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

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    With shifters, I think we have to accept a trade off. Without a layer of rubber to isolate, you're going to feel more driveline vibrations through the shifter.

    Enthusiasts will probably like it. The way my Miata's short/stubby shifter makes you feel like your hands are reaching in to the gear box, it's so direct.

    Funny thing is they sell aftermarket 8 ball shifters with taller shafts because some people want more leverage (I'm not kidding!).

    At least Subaru offers the SPT shifter as an option, even if it is port-installed.
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,653
    The WRX does not have a rubbery shifter. If anything it's.a bit notchy—which I like.

    Bob
  • dino001dino001 Tampa, FLPosts: 3,432
    I have short-throw shifter on my '02. It should be standard on all WRX, period. After initial shock for those who never had to use so much force to shift a gear, it rewards you with fantastic crisp movements.

    I remember once I was away and I came back home after 3 weeks driving my sisters little old Opel with miniscule 1.3l engine (probably 60-70 hp), I actually stalled my car two times, then performed couple of "leaps" :blush: . Of course I was back in the game after two minutes - boy did it feel good, or what. Like an old-style racing car :shades:

    It really takes driving something else for a few days to realize how great my "now getting older" WRX is. I just worry the experience may never be repeated with new mainstream-schmainstream design ;)

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

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Hope you still read this thread...

    Can you hop over here:

    albook, "Crossover SUV Comparison" #3863, 18 Nov 2007 6:10 pm

    They're discussing the Pilot's platform and that photo you have would really come in handy. I don't think these guys fully understand platform sharing.

    The Tribeca is discussed in that thread, to bring this back on topic.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,669
    were down 6% from 2006, is that correct? And Subaru's hopeful forecast for '08 is still to sell 200K cars, which would represent more than a 10% increase from '07?

    Will we see a diesel- or hybrid-powered Subaru at dealers in the next 2 years, do you think?

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

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I doubt they'll meet that target. I'm expecting doom-and-gloom for the whole US auto industry in sales terms this year.

    The 09 Forester debuted and looks very strong, but I don't think it'll be enough to offset a lousy market.

    Now, in terms of pure market share, I think they'll improve. The new Forester is a lot more mainstream, less tall wagon and more trendy crossover. The same changes that made the WRX too civilized are going to be seen as a good thing to a Forester customer.

    Plus, I honestly don't think I have *ever* seen such a near-unanimous positive response to a new Subaru design. Everyone seems to like it.

    In terms of market share, I bet they gain about 10%. That's still a small gain in the big picture, about 0.1% gain if you look at the whole car and truck market.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,669
    I think most of the forecasts I have seen for auto sales this year are flat relative to '07. So for Subaru to gain 0.1% in market share, you are saying that in '08 they WILL achieve a 10% gain in sales over '07 then?

    I will be curious to see how how high they take the incentives on the Outback to push them out the door, or if they will just stand pat on incentives and let sales decline gradually on that model.

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

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Oh, I don't think sales for the overall market will be flat at all. I think they'll be down significantly.

    OB sales are OK, the Forester has been hurting them due to its age.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,669
    Well, they are giving back $1500 in cash on Outback, so I would HOPE OB sales were OK! I hope they do not raise the incentives any more. Better just to let sales taper off a little if that is what they are going to do. Outback is in what, year four of its current cycle?

    Obviously if the market is down by a few percent this year and Subaru merely maintains sales at '07 levels, it would gain market share. That would be intriguing to me: is there something about Subaru's typical customers that insulates them more from downturns in the economy than the customers of other automakers?

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

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Yep, OB came out in 05 and just got the mid-cycle refresh for 08. The new one should arrive for MY2010, and test mules are already circulating.

    To answer the question in the 2nd paragraph, yes, to some extent, Subaru customers tend to be more affluent and could afford a more expensive car, but they simply choose not to.

    A while back we had a letter writing campaign to try to get official presence on Edmunds.com, but what was eye-opening was all the letterhead members used to send me the letters (I collected them and submitted one single package). Unbelievable. VP of this, CEO of that. I could not believe my collegues were in such high positions, I was so impressed.

    So for the most part, people that can afford to spend more would still be able to make a purchase. I'm not sure if they would postpone it or not, I guess we'll see.

    I fully expect a recession yet we've saved up in advance, so I'll be Forester shopping as soon as the new one arrives.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Unbelievable. VP of this, CEO of that. I could not believe my collegues were in such high positions, I was so impressed.

    I'm a CEO of my own company :) and was a VP at Prudential. In the financial world the VP title is almost an entry level position.

    I think that a lot of the core subaru customers are professors, teachers, etc. who basically are fairly insulated from economic downturns. This helps maintain their customer base in such economic times.

    -mike
    Motorsports and Modifications Host
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,669
    is that Subaru's sales now are actually LOWER than they were in calendar 2004, the last full calendar year upon which this thread was founded in 2005. And the 201K sales goal in 2005, revised downwards twice to that figure from 250K originally, has never been met since.

    But the other crucial piece of their problem back in '05, the huge swaths of red ink at SIA, has been cured by Toyota, which is now cranking out Camrys to the tune of 100K per year in Indiana, IIRC.

    Funny statistic: Toyota just about sold one Prius for every Subaru (all models combined) sold in 2007. :-P

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

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    True, but the 2 latest intros have been successful, i.e. the revised Tribeca and the new Impreza. Each has set sales records since they've been out.

    2007 was bad mostly due to sales prior to those intros.

    If you compare model year 2008 to model year 2007 they've improved.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,669
    I was glancing at the Detroit show news on MSN, and noticed that Mitsu is now going to sell a Lancer Ralliart that is more than tack-on pieces and alloys, but instead competes directly with WRX? 2L turbo making 235 hp, 6-speed SST-automated manual (no stick and three pedals, blecch!), all the prerequisites to go head to head with WRX. Should WRX worry?!

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

  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,653
    Absolutely it should worry. My take is that the new Ralliart will put WRX product planners on fast-forward with a "new and improved" v2.1 WRX.

    Bob
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Absolutely it should worry. My take is that the new Ralliart will put WRX product planners on fast-forward with a "new and improved" v2.1 WRX.

    I agree. I also think that this is part of their plan. In the commodities trading world we have a saying "don't use all your bullets in one shot" or "save a few bullets for later". If Subaru came out with a total kick-butt car off the bat, they'd have nothing to one-up mitsu with later on. I think this is the key reason the STi and WRX both have essentially the same powerplants as the last gnerations.

    This gives them the opportunity to come out with a hopped up WRX and STi in a year or 2.

    -mike
    Motorsports and Modifications Host
  • waltchanwaltchan Posts: 123
    Subaru can gain sales again if they offer at least a small three door hatchback with an optional AWD. Back in the 80s and 90s, there was the Subaru Justy that gets great MPG (around 50 MPG highway) and comes with a 3-cylinder engine with a CVT transimission. It bagan production in 1987 in the US and discontinued in 1994. I inquired about the Justy at the 2008 LA auto show and to see if if anything similar like the Justy will come back in the future, and I was shocked to find out that none of the Subaru reps has heard of Justy. That's pretty sad. Did Subaru forget to make a fuel-efficient car that was once top in the 80s? Today's Subaru get awful fuel economy.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,669
    Word is that a 50-state diesel for many of the Subaru models is only a couple of years out, and it should substantially improve Subaru's fuel economy.

    I would like to see them borrow some of the hybrid stuff from Toyota and mate it with the 2.5 as well. A hybrid Impreza with a threshold speed of 35-40 mph would be FAST and still manage mid-30s or better for mpg in town, I would think.

    As for the Justy, GOSH I wish they would sell the new Justy here:

    http://www.worldcarfans.com/9071123.005/all-new-subaru-justy-announced-for-uk

    Note that while this article only makes mention of the 1.0, the Sirion that the new Justy is based on also has an optional 1.3L engine, with which it makes the 0-60 cruise in about 11 seconds. Sell it in the States, Subaru!

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

  • jeffmcjeffmc Posts: 1,742
    I'd have to say no thank you to that, nippononly. I don't want to drive a FWD Daihatsu. The Justy is likely a temporary stop-gap to help bolster Subaru's European sales. Subaru will be introducing their own global subcompact, at which point they won't need the Daihatsu-sourced Justy. What I DO want is the Honda Fit-sized G4e Subaru concept, developed and built by Subaru. G4e (or a gasoline version of it) may be that global subcompact.
    http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/News/articleId=122961
    image
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