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WRX to help drive Subaru’s projected sales record

Alternative: The oddly-named Levorg is expected to come to Australia around the middle of 2015 as a de facto replacement for the axed WRX hatch.

Subaru to buck market trend with 2014 growth before new model rush next year

27 Mar 2014

SUBARU Australia managing director Nick Senior is expecting another company sales record in 2014 – a target that will depend largely on the new-generation Impreza-based WRX and STi performance twins launching in March and April respectively.

More significantly, though, is the expectation that this projected growth will come against the backdrop of what is shaping up as an unexpected market-wide sales decline for the calendar year, according to Mr Senior.

Modest growth this year will set the stage for what promises to be a stronger 2015, with new-generation versions of the Liberty and Outback due weeks apart at the start of the year and – in all likelihood – the Levorg hot wagon, a pseudo replacement for the defunct WRX hatch, due mid-year.

The company is targeting a figure about 500 units above last year’s record 40,200 deliveries, which was a slim 11 units over of its then-record 2012. That would mean three record years on the trot for Subaru’s local distributor, Inchcape.

While the company still aims for modest growth, it has experienced a slower start to 2014 than it did last year, with sales down 0.6 per cent for the first two months. Keep in mind, though, that the total market decrease over 2013’s all-time record is 3.7 per cent.

Forester, Liberty and Outback volume fell 14.2 per cent, 65.1 per cent and 31 per cent respectively, although strong Impreza growth of 69.8 per cent on the back of factory drive-away deals made up the bulk of the difference, alongside the run-out Tribeca (up 97.4 per cent).

The company is also understood to be tracking behind on its March sales numbers with four days remaining. The third month of the year – also the final month on the Japanese financial year – is traditionally the market’s second largest after June.

In addition, the company will lose about 100 monthly sales once stocks of its now-discontinued Tribeca large SUV are exhausted. Deliveries from its US plant in Indiana have now ceased as the car has been axed due to dwindling sales in North America.

However, the launch of the new WRX this month and the even hotter STi in April will give these figures a bump. The company plans to sell on average about 200 WRXs each month, with the new CVT automatic option opening to door to new types of buyers – or so the company hopes.

The circa-2000 WRX sales in 2014 will be complemented by improved sales on the sporty Forester XT and BRZ coupe, the latter due to greater supply. In all, about 5000 of Subaru’s sales this year – 12.5 per cent – are expected to come from its ‘sporting’ models.

Speaking with GoAuto at this week’s WRX launch in Tasmania, Mr Senior said Subaru’s projected sales performance in 2014 would buck a trend of overall market decline, the latter of which comes largely due weaker fleet, government and rental sales, which remain stubbornly down.

“Having a look a the first two months and the likelihood of March, I think unless we see a big increase in the fleet (sales) coming back in quarter three, 12-months after the FBT decision, I’m thinking that the market may struggle to get to last year’s level,” he said.

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