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Subaru diesel dilemma

Oil-burner: Liberty may not be the first Subaru to get diesel power.

Subaru Australia admits to underestimating the demand for its upcoming diesel boxer

3 Mar 2008

SUBARU Australia has been so overwhelmed by the local customer interest in the new 2.0-litre common-rail boxer turbo-diesel engine that it has put in the call to Subaru Japan to see if it can get the diesel as soon as possible.

Subaru Australia’s Managing Director Nick Senior said to Go Auto recently, “There is a staggering amount of interest [in the boxer diesel], a lot more than I even anticipated.”

While Europe gets the diesel in the current generation Liberty, Mr Senior was happy to wait for the diesel engine, planned to coincide with the new generation Outback/Liberty launch late next year.

“We were to get the diesel with the launch of the new-generation Liberty and Outback, but we have now asked the factory if we can have anything earlier.”

Such an arrangement would mean that the diesel could debut in the new Forester, which arrives here next week in its new, third-generation petrol guise.

 center imageLeft: Boxer diesel engine.

Mr Senior admitted it was unlikely the factory could accommodate the Australian request, as Forester diesel production is currently destined for Europe, with its released due late this year. “They [the factory] are listening and it’s just whether we can mount a business case to get it here earlier [than late 2009].”

There is significant competition for the Forester diesel volume. “Subaru haven’t had a diesel. Diesel is 67 per cent of sales in Europe - and Subaru’s most disappointing market, [so the diesel is] the opportunity to go from 0.1-0.2 percent to get some significant volume in Europe - that’s where the focus is.”

The boxer turbo-diesel has just been launched in the Liberty in the European market, where Mr Senior says media response to the boxer turbo-diesel has been very positive. “It’s very encouraging for us, it’s our first attempt at boxer diesel.”

Mr Senior has just visited country Victoria/South Australian dealers and says that diesel is the word on everyone’s mind “It’s the first question posed, when’s the diesel coming.” People have been reading about the launch in Europe, and certainly there’s a lot of interest.

The interest in diesel has not come from just the country dealers, says Mr Senior. “Everyone’s interested - it’s a question everyone’s asking. Since those stories have come out of Europe, the level of interest has been staggerin.”

Mr Senior says that the question of whether it is worthwhile introducing the diesel in a largely petrol market “It’s a catch 22: there isn’t the volume there because people looking at the volume are seeing there isn’t any.” The only way to see just how popular the diesel will be is to introduce it, according to Mr Senior, and then, given Subaru customers’ interest, “you might be surprised by the potential.”

Read more:

Melbourne show: Subaru's Forester surprise

Subaru plans Geneva reveal for turbo-diesel


The Road to Recovery podcast series


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