News - Subaru
Baby Subaru might return
True Subaru light-car is not dead forever, despite re-badging Toyotas and Daihatsus
26 Apr 2011
By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in NEW YORK
SUBARU says it might one day return to making its own baby cars instead of re-badging the Toyota Yaris to create vehicles such as the Japan-only Trezia, but not for the foreseeable future.
A one-time baby car specialist – before the days of all-wheel drive and WRX turbos – Subaru has not designed, developed or built its own light car since the demise of the R1/R2 Kei cars from 2003 to 2010.
And even back then these were sub-B city cars rather than a true B-segment competitor for models such as the Ford Fiesta or Volkswagen Polo.
Since then the company that prides itself on its engineering focus has decided that it is not financially viable to offer a Subaru-engineered light car, despite the increasing popularity of smaller cars around the world.
Subaru senior engineer Akihide Takeuchi said B-segment vehicle was not profitable.
“If B-segment sales globally rise dramatically, then maybe we will reconsider the situation,” he said. “But we now concentrate on the more profitable C-segment (Impreza) and above.”
Mr Takeuchi said Subaru was too small to fly solo on a baby car program, particularly as the global economy has not yet fully emerged from the ravages of the recent financial crisis.
“We are a relatively small company with limited resources,” he said. “And our production capacity is limited too.”
For more than a decade Subaru has relied on Suzuki (Ignis) and then Toyota (mostly Yaris-derived vehicles such as the Verso) and Daihatsu (Sirion and Move, among a string of other models) to fill in gaps in its various global market portfolios.
In Australia, the move to a front-drive light car would go against the company’s ‘all-wheel drive is all we do’ philosophy since late 1997.
Nevertheless, the Subaru/Toyota developed rear-wheel-drive sports car is a strong contender for an Australian launch next year.
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