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Subaru on a roll

On track: Subaru hopes its new WRX will contribute 180 sales a month as it heads into record sales this year.

Diesels and fresh WRX to help turbocharge Subaru sales into record territory

7 Sep 2010

SUBARU Australia is eyeing record sales in 2010 and 2011, with the 40,000 barrier in its sights for next year.

The company’s sales have bounced back after the global economic crisis and it is riding a small wave created by its newly added diesel models.

Speaking at this week’s launch of its new high-performance WRX and WRX STI models, Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior said introducing the diesel boxer engine in Forester and Outback had been a good move.

“We have every confidence in saying that Subaru’s entry into the Australian diesel market has been very, very successful,” he says. “It provides us with a building block of the future.”

He hints that another diesel could soon be on the way.

“The success of the Forester and Outback diesel has certainly prompted us to think about expanding our diesel range, and we are already talking to the factory,” he says.

GoAuto understands the next diesel cab off the rank will be the mid-sized Liberty, which is already available with a diesel in Europe.

After three months of sales, Subaru has moved an average of 233 diesel Foresters every month, helping to contribute to a record haul of 1400 Forester sales last month.

 center imageFrom top: Subaru Forester, Subaru Outback, Subaru Liberty, Subaru diesel engine.

It also has been shifting an average of 150 diesel Outbacks every month, giving it 28 per cent of the sales mix.

Subaru diesels are available only with manual transmission, a drawback that is likely to be costing sales in Australia.

Subaru Australia says it is discussing this issue with the factory and adds that the strong sales of diesel models in Australia can only help the case for an automatic transmission to be paired with a diesel engine.

Even without automatic diesels, Subaru is confident of hitting 39,000 sales by the end of 2010.

“This would represent a new sales record for Subaru,” says Mr Senior.

The company is already doing far better than this time last year, with year-to-date sales up 18 per cent on the back of strong Liberty, Outback and Forester uptake, with the latter hitting the number one spot in the compact SUV segment.

As always, Mr Senior is not getting carried away with sales expectations, saying the company is looking to add another 1000 sales to its tally for 2011, which should mean cracking the 40,000 mark.

Subaru is hoping its newly revised WRX and STI will contribute to the tally. It expects to lift monthly WRX sales from 140 to about 180, while it is tipping STI sales to double the current 20 per month total for several months before dropping back to 30 a month.

The sales volume of the high performance pair might not be huge, but Mr Senior insists both models create more interest in Subaru models and strengthen the brand.

Subaru Australia is mulling the potential impact on the brand of the new FT86 coupe, which is a joint development between Subaru and Toyota.

The striking sportscar is expected to run a turbocharged boxer engine and rear-wheel drive, putting the model at odds with Subaru Australia’s all-wheel-drive policy and its slogan All 4 the Driver.After initially ruling out the model, Mr Senior said Subaru Australia was now considering it. He has told GoAuto that no decision will be made on the FT-86 for a few months.

“At the end of the year we will have a greater exposure to the vehicle in terms of specification, timing, availability, production, etc, etc,” he said.

“Once we know more about its technical spec and its potential pricing we can then start building a business case, but at the moment we are building business cases on thin air.”

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