Subaru Shortage Is It Coming

Subaru Imprezas outage means no significant 2007 record sales for the Japanese automaker. But with the release of the 2008 Impreza, headwind is expected. Add in the arrival of the Forester and the aftermath would be fabulous.

A showroom record could have overwhelmed Subaru Australia. But the late call on the new Impreza sedan spoilt it. The new Impreza hatch has just landed with more variants on the way. But short supplies from Japan will limit the quantity of deliveries that the Japanese automaker can make to the end of the year.

Earlier it was reported that the sedan is expected to boost Impreza sales by about 200 cars a month, from a hatch estimate of 1000 cars a month. But it will not join the Australian lineup until the third quarter next year. It is lagging behind the hatch variant because the car was originally developed for the United States and it took time for Australia to establish a business case. Prior to that, the Japanese automaker will also have a redesigned Tribeca people mover, a new Forester and the high-performance Impreza STi. Additionally, the Impreza diesel is also on the way.

From this month, the Impreza range in Australia will be changed with hatch only models, sedan version to come sometime next year. The iconic car will be equipped with sophisticated amenities and enhanced auto parts accessories like the Subaru clutch disc.

The Impreza is a compact car introduced by the automaker in 1993. The car was launched as an updated competitor to other Asian product lines such as the Honda Civic, Nissan Sentra, Mitsubishi Lancer, Mazda 323, and the Toyota Corolla. However, the Impreza is the only vehicle in this class to offer AWD, which was made as standard equipment in 1996. Up to this day, the said feature is a distinction that is still unmatched.

Nick Senior, the head of Subaru Australia, believes he will not have enough cars to claw back lost ground this year. Sales are up but the three percent improvement trails in an industry that has grown by more than nine percent to the end of August. We’ll struggle to do another record this year, to be honest. We cannot get enough cars, Senior said. There is simply not enough time. We’re expecting some solid months to the end of the year, but we won’t claw it all back.

Senior believes the safer new Impreza will be a hit but admits the plan has changed following the late development of the four-door sedan. The intention with the new Impreza was to have one variation globally and that was the hatch, he noted. Relatively late, the US decided that to maximise the potential of the car in their market they would like a sedan.

When the decision was made to build a sedan for the US we were asked if we had an interest, so we researched the potential. We thought we could add some incremental sales, but the timing meant we would have to wait 12 months, he added. There will only be the North American market and Australia having both hatch and sedan. But in the past we’ve had a foot in both camps, with half a wagon and half a hatch.

He believes Aussie car shoppers could take up to 350 sedans a month but, with some hatch substitution, is aiming for total Impreza sales of about 1200 cars. That would make it the company’s No. 1 – ahead of the rugged Subaru Forester.

But that could change with the arrival of the new Forester early next year. The 2009 Subaru Forester will be redesigned.