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Subaru Australia sales growth to slow in 2018
XV demand bolsters Subaru Australia’s seventh successive annual sales record tilt
5 Jul 2018
By JUSTIN HILLIARD in JAPAN
SUBARU Australia is on track for its seventh successive annual sales record, mainly thanks to the hot-selling XV small SUV, while an extension of its standard warranty and service intervals could play a role in continuing this momentum.
Speaking to GoAuto last week at the fifth-generation Forester international media launch in Shizuoka, Japan, Subaru Australia managing director Colin Christie explained that the mid-size SUV is expected to overtake the XV and regain its best-selling status next year.
“I think Forester will go back there,” he said. “We’re in a really lucky situation at the moment where we have Impreza, XV, Outback and Forester all around the same sort of volumes, generally around the 1000, 1000-plus mark.
“This year, I think XV will be the leader (for the) full year. But, as we move into next year, I think (with) Forester, there’s a huge opportunity for that car. So, I expect it will become our biggest seller again.”
Sales of the XV have boomed this year following the second-generation versions launch just over a year ago, with 7330 examples sold to the end of June – representing a massive 123.1 per cent increase. Mr Christie added it “will continue to kick massive goals” in 2019.
Alternatively, ahead of its new model’s release in September this year, the Forester has taken a significant 24.4 per cent hit, to 5191 units, as it has gone into run-out during the same period.
Meanwhile, sales of the Outback large SUV (5690, down 8.6%) and Impreza small car (5171, down 18.9%) have also backtracked in 2018, while the output from the Liberty (877, down 26.5%) and Levorg (468, down 5.1%) mid-size cars has also slowed.
“Outback’s one that has actually bounced back when we did the facelift (in February this year), and it’s outperforming what it’s done historically again. So, Outback year-on year, we’ll probably see, even potentially, some growth over the last year,” Mr Christie said.
“I think Impreza was better than our wildest expectations when we launched the car, and it’s probably coming back now, starting to stabilise around where we would expect, which is 800 to 900 to 1000 cars a month.”
Nonetheless, Subaru Australia’s total volume is currently up 1.3 per cent, to 26,305 units, putting it on pace for another annual sales record after last year’s tally of 51,511 deliveries, which was 11.7 per cent ahead of 2016.
As mentioned, this marginal growth is mainly attributed to the XV, but the WRX (1181, up 0.2 per cent) and BRZ (397, up 13.4 per cent) performance range has also been a steady contributor.
As such, Mr Christie was conservative with his sales projection for 2018, indicating that Subaru Australia’s recent rapid growth will start to slow.
“The reality is that we’re not expecting massive growth. We’ve had three years in a row now where (we had) really strong growth. It wasn’t that long we were selling 40,000, (and) we’re now at 52,000,” he said.
“So, I think we’ll see growth, but it’ll be a more stable growth. Then next year, moving into Forester and that sort of stuff, we’ll probably see a spike up again. But, over the next two or three years, we’re looking at constant, stable growth rather than the sort of growth rates we’ve seen (before).”
After setting its sales record with 40,189 units in 2012, Subaru’s Australia’s volume steadily grew from 40,200 in 2013 to 40,502 in 2014. However, this quickly accelerated from 43,600 in 2015 to 47,018 in 2016 before reaching 2017’s aforementioned total.
Mr Christie confirmed that growth in 2018 will also be impacted by supply constraints that are due to global production demand, which affects all models, including particular variants and colour combinations.
“One of the biggest challenges we’ve got is our underlying demand and order take is actually extremely strong – again, it’s stronger than we expected,” he said.
“We’re actually starting to run out of some models … and that’ll probably go for a couple of months, I think, where we’ll take orders for more cars than we can deliver, just until the production rebalances, because (it’s) getting a bit tight, and then we’ll see that growth kick in again.”
In what would be a game-changing move sales-wise, Mr Christie revealed that discussions on extending Subaru Australia’s standard warranty beyond its current three-year/unlimited-kilometre term were continuing.
“Consumer demand for longer warranties may push Subaru Australia to extend its warranty period and the service intervals to match rivals,” he said.
Mr Christie added that while no official decision has been made regarding the warranty yet, there were serious discussions taking place about the service intervals for all models – excluding the already-longer Impreza and BRZ – to be extended from their current six-month/12,500km term.
GM Holden earlier this week joined Ford, Honda and Peugeot Citroen Australia in announcing a standard five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty for private buyers.
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