The future’s looking bright for Subaru according to recent announcements by company executives concerning the progress of the company in North American markets. Fuji Heavy announced that it forecasted a 20% increase in North American sales by the year 2020. This comes on the heels of another incredible year for the Japanese auto manufacturer, in which it sold 478,000 units in the North American market. According to Automotive News, “Subaru is the only brand to increase U.S. sales in each of the past six years and has recorded double-digit increases in each of the past 16 months.” Subaru’s increase in demand in recent years mostly due to the public’s perception of the brand, which conjures up adjectives such as consistent, reliable, and safe, all great adjectives in an age of massive recall by major auto manufacturers.
In response to this market demand, Subaru has revealed an aggressive business strategy for the future, marked by a new vehicle platform and even more efficient engines, an area that has not been of much concern for Subaru in the past. Another strategy being deployed by the company is an aggressive increase in output in order to meet demand.
These plans include an increase in output at an Indiana assembly plant to 400,000 units, set to begin around 2017. This comes shortly after Toyota’s decision to move its Camry production out of Subaru’s plant in Indiana. This move gives Subaru enough space to produce 100,000 more units if utilized properly.
Perhaps the most interesting announcement in Subaru’s new plan is their goal to create more efficient, cleaner engines. While fuel economy has not been a concern for Subaru in the past, Fuji Heavy president Yasuyuki Yoshinaga has expressed interest in exploring technologies such as the direct-injection engine and Atkinson cycle engines. Also on the horizon is a plug-in hybrid car, influenced by Prius technologies.
The recent success of Subaru recently comes as no surprise. Consistently inflating gas prices as well as reliability issues among the “Big 3” have risen demand for reliable for efficient and reliable cars, an area that Subaru exceeds expectations in. Will Subaru be able to meet its lofty expectations for the future? How much of Subaru’s push for higher fuel efficiency is fueled by (no pun intended) aggressive CAFE standards? Will Subaru be able to extend its North American market share, or will resurgence by Toyota, Ford, and GM keep Subaru at bay? It certainly seems that Subaru has been able to stay ahead of the trend, but it will be interesting to see how that will continue under their new strategy.
– Zac Durkin