Subaru of America Incorporated sold a total of 216,652 units last year. That makes 2009 a record year for the company and they plan to keep the numbers high, and not return to the ups and downs that plagued them in the past.
Executive VP and COO Thomas J. Doll says Subaru is more established now and is in a better place than in other years when sales reached record highs. Now, he says, the brand is strong enough to keep sales at high levels and improve consistently.
Doll said, “We’re kind of at the beginning of what this franchise is capable of doing.” All-Wheel drive, which has become Subaru’s signature, has been a feature of all vehicles the company has sold since the early ‘90s. Doll said this and a consistently reinforced marketing message are the keys. “We’re true to who we are,” he said.
Doll also says that Subaru closes sales more consistently than other automakers, and approximately 95% of their dealerships are profitable. The vehicles sell on subtle prestige rather than price, and Doll says that once customers are inside a car, the battle is won.
“We’re trying to change the whole way we approach selling a car,” says Doll. Total Cost of Incentives data from Edmunds.com backs up Doll’s assertion that Subaru sells the car and not the deal. Average TCI outlays for the brand were one of the lowest in the industry for 2009, according to Edmunds.
Doll says dealers are asking for more cars, which is an after-effect of the government CARS program that helped Subaru sales but left dealer lots depleted. Subaru is now working to replenish their inventory.
The Tribeca, which has been unpopular in the past, is now in high demand by dealers and remains in short supply. Doll reports that the Lafayette, Indiana plant that makes the Tribeca is going full throttle to produce Tribeca, Legacy and Outback models. Subaru has placed the emphasis on the Legacy and Outback models. Doll says, “The Outback makes more money.”
Doll would not reveal the automaker’s target sales number, but he did say, “We want to at least grow incrementally every year.”
Part of the plan will be to pit the Legacy against competitor Honda’s Accord, which has outsold the Subaru model by a significant percentage. Doll says they can do better, and as the auto industry’s sales volume rises in the near future, Subaru will have a chance to market the brand to customers who may not have considered them in the past.
Subaru also has a hybrid model in the works for 2012. Doll says Subaru customers want a hybrid model, and Subaru will have one of the only AWD hybrids available.