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Macho Subaru Outback and its Aussie connection

Local hook: Some of the MY14 Subaru Outback's tough body bits were made in Brisbane by EGR.

Subaru turns to Brisbane parts-maker to help sharpen MY14 Outback’s image


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10 Oct 2013

SUBARU’S recently revised Outback has a strong Australian connection, with some of its macho body add-ons designed, developed and produced by long-established parts-maker EGR Automotive in Brisbane.

EGR is no stranger to producing original equipment and after-market parts, with factories across Australia and around the world. Along with its eight local plants, it also produces in China, Thailand, Europe, Russia and North America.

As reported, the 2014 model launched two weeks ago has had a significant cosmetic makeover, and now looks more like the real deal if you want to go bush-bashing.

Local parts designed including the front and rear underbody guard protectors and the panels on the bottoms of the doors and made here by EGR, are fitted at Subaru importer Inchcape’s depot after they arrive on the dock from Japan.

The rest of the car’s new outfit is made and installed in Japan, including the roof rails, under-door sills, wheel arches and mudflaps.

“This is the biggest project we have done with a local parts supplier,” said Subaru national corporate affairs manager David Rowley .

Mr Rowley said Subaru Australia had worked with a number of Australian suppliers in the past to come up with some accessories, but this project was about original equipment, fitted before the dealership.

“Fuji (Heavy Industries) has very rigorous R&D requirements for parts and rules for fitment,” he said. “There is a very careful process that has to be gone through in terms of fitting those bits.”

The tough new look for the Outback makes sure it looks ready to tackle the dirt and rocky tracks found far from the bitumen.

Subaru is hoping the new clothes will revive the Outback’s appeal. In the first nine months of 2013, sales have sagged 18.0 per cent from 3514 to 2884 units.

This decline is faster than the dip in overall Subaru sales, which have eased four per cent to 29,448 (previously 30,779) units in the first nine months.

EGR group chief executive Simon McLellan told GoAuto this week that EGR has worked extensively with Subaru and many other brands.

“EGR has been a supplier to Subaru Australia for more than 25 years,” he said.

“EGR also supplies Subaru in the USA and Europe via two of its overseas operating subsidiaries, EGR Inc and EGR Europe.”

The Outback project started 14 months ago when Subaru brought the concept to EGR. The two companies collaborated closely, using EGR’s computer aided design (CAD) team to refine the design and proceed to tooling.

EGR’s automotive division generates 70 per cent of group revenues and its creative department employs more than 120 technical staff: engineers, designers, CAD operators pattern makers, tool makers and mould makers.

All up, EGR employs 1000 people around the world in its three divisions, with 850 in Australia.

EGR sometimes outsources tooling production, depending on specific requirements, but Mr McLellan said all the tools for the Subaru project were made in-house.

He said the vast majority of EGR’s work is on original equipment for vehicle manufacturers, mainly after sales accessories and parts fitted at the port of entry.

“We have long-established relationships with all of the major OEM's and work very closely with them,” he said.

One recent high-profile contract was to design and produce a soft-touch integrated front protection system or “nudge bar” for Land Rover’s Discovery 4.

Mr McLellan said the nudge bar was a watershed for EGR as it had to meet EU requirements – including a crucial head-impact criterion.

Complicating the challenge was the need to incorporate EGR’s in-mould paint technique, which gives the normal OEM paint finish but is soft to the touch.

EGR also make canopies for a range of utes, bonnet protectors, weather shields and side steps for utes and four wheel drives.

Mr McLellan said that the other two EGR divisions were also doing well, although the automotive sector has outstripped them.

“EGR has increasingly diversified its overall business by investing heavily in the building industry with a wide range of products for commercial and domestic applications.

“EGR 's original division, Display, which supplies custom-made point-of-sale material, is also in the process of re-inventing itself through the development of new electronic lighting solutions for its blue chip customer base.”

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