QOTD: Can Subaru Just Go Ahead And Sell Whatever It Wants, Wherever It Wants, Whenever It Wants?
Think of it this way: 2013 was aÂ huge year for Subaru of America as sales had risen 59 percent over the span of just two years. But in 2013, Subaru sold 424,683 over the course of the entire calendar year. In 2017, that’s a total Subaru blasted past in the first week of September.
But have you ever stopped to notice that Subaru is accomplishing much of its success with three remarkably similar variations of the same theme? Crosstrek, Forester, Outback. A bit of extra length there, a touchÂ of extra height here, a smidgen of savings there, a doseÂ of extra equipment here. This is hardly the historically obvious 3 Series to 5 Series to 7 Series lineup. The Crosstrek, Forester, and Outback are conceptually similar vehicles with overlapping price spectrums. And recently, with a huge leap in Crosstrek popularity, they’re all similarly popular, too.
You almost get the sense Subaru could squeeze an Outback “four-door coupe” in there and sell 12,000 of those each month, too.
Or could they? Is the huge success of Subaru in 2017 â€” consistent U.S. sales growth despite a market-wide slowdown â€” something of a peak, nothing more than the result of inflated demand for a lineup temporarily perceived asÂ hot?
In September, Subaru of America reported 12,491 Crosstrek sales. That’s a September record, the second-best month ever (after August’s record) and just the third month in the nameplate’s history in which the newly relaunched Crosstrek entered five-digit territory. Crosstrek pricing stretches from $22,710 to $27,210.
Subaru also sold 13,262 Foresters in September, a sharp 17-percent year-over-year drop for the Forester but still the model’s 50th consecutive month above the 10K marker. Forester pricing starts justÂ beyond the base Crosstrek at $23,710 but reaches to a higher $37,005.
Then there’s the Outback, now Subaru’s best-selling model with 140,491 sales so far this year. September volume slid slightly, 4 percent, to 16,330 units. Outback pricing starts at $26,810, only $2000 beyond the basic Forester automatic, and soarsÂ to $39,605.
The Crosstrek, Forester, and Outback accounted for 76 percent of Subaru’s September volume.September’s huge 51-percent Crosstrek uptick came as sales of its donor vehicle, the Impreza, jumped 32 percent. While industry-wideÂ SeptemberÂ incentives rose 1.5 percent, year-over-year, to $3,742 per vehicle according to ALG, Subaru’s average discount fell 6 percent to only $1,026. The auto industry’s average transaction price fell 1 percent; Subaru’s ATPs ticked up by a tenth of a percent. The industry discounted vehicles by an average of 11.5 percent in September. Subaru cut prices by less than 4 percent. Together with the Crosstrek’s rise, these financial tallies help explain the acceptable losses in Forester and Outback sales â€” Subaru refuses to play that game.
Is the current wave of Subaru acceptance anywhere near cresting, or could Subaru theoretically positionÂ another mid-$20,000s two-row crossover and find itself in short supply of that vehicle, too?
Subaru won’t test that theory, of course. The next vehicle stretches the range on the north side. The Ascent will be Subaru’s flagship vehicle. Based on current trends, it seems as though Subaru won’t be able to build enough to sate demand.
Can Subaru just do as it pleases, build whatever it wants, and find even more buyers than it thought possible? Or will America’s Subaru affection soon max out?
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October 5, 2017 at 09:19AM
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