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Auto blogSun, 02 Jun 2013 11:00:00 EST
Consumers in the US are gobbling up Subaru models, a trend that may result in dealer shortages if the Japanese automaker isn't able to meet the surging demand. A quick look at the numbers reveals a 25.2 percent year-over-year jump in April US sales, and a 17-percent gain for the first quarter of 2013. The sales are so strong that the company's CEO, Yasuyuki Yoshinaga, told the Wall Street Journal that Subaru will exceed its 2016 goals (380,000 US units sold) by the end of the company's current business year. The US market has grown to be one of Subaru's best, with the company now logging about half its global sales on our shores.
While strong sales are good problem to have, the automaker has relatively limited production capacity, which may leave dealers with sparse inventory. Certain models, such as the popular Forester crossover (shown above), could hit 10,000 units this month with the plant at full capacity (far above its target of 8,000 units). On average, the US car industry has a 60-day supply of vehicles on hand, but inventory for the new Forester is at just 16 days. "If this situation persists, we'll face a supply shortage," Mr. Yoshinaga told the WSJ.
Despite being one of the smallest Japanese automakers by volume, this is all positive news for Subaru and parent Fuji Heavy Industries, which projects a second straight year of record operating profit thanks to strong US sales and a weaker yen.
Okay, folks - it appears we've got a problem. The Toyota GT86, Europe's counterpart to our own beloved Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S coupes, is apparently not selling too well. This, according to Toyota's European Vice President of Research and Development, Gerald Killman, is what's limiting plans for additional variants of the rear-drive coupe.
"A faster version of that car would be at the top of most people's wish lists, but like the cabriolet, it is hard to justify a business case to push either model into production based on the current sales," Killman told AutoExpress. "Personally, I think that engine could use a little bit more," he added.
More troubling is that slow sales aren't limited to the Euro-spec car, with Killman claiming that the GT86 have been missing sales targets in major markets around the globe. It may not be that the US is one of those major markets, though. Scion's Vice President, Doug Murtha, tells Autoblog that his brand is happy with the sales of its version of the GT86, the FR-S. 18,000 units were sold last year, which Murtha says is "generally in line with original expectations for the car."
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles isn't the only big name in the auto industry releasing details on its future plans. Subaru, and its parent company Fuji Heavy Industries, is aiming to bump its North American sales up from 478,000 to 600,000 by 2020. Now, that seems pretty reasonable, especially in the face of FCA's hugely ambitious goals for Alfa Romeo and Maserati. It's how Subaru will go about increasing the sales, though, that has us intrigued.
A focus on more fuel-efficient, direct-injection engines will complement a new platform, while the company is contemplating expanding capacity at its Indiana factory, which will now have more room since Toyota Camry production will be ending there.
As for that new platform, it's called the Subaru Global Platform. Original, we know. It's a modular deal and will eventually underpin a vast range of future Subies following its debut in 2016. The new platform may also end up underpinning a seven-seat SUV, which would serve as the successor to the Tribeca and debut between 2016 and 2020, according to Automotive News.