New-vehicle sales are currently suffering but Subaru of America has beaten the odds and racked up huge US sales gains. The credit goes to a decision four years ago to drop a strategy to go upmarket.
Instead, Subaru, since 2006, has cut prices, said goodbye to quirky styling, and focused on the safety and practical aspects of its five vehicles.
Dealers also have been given a voice in making important product decisions. These moves helped propel Subaru to become the best-performing brand in 2009, up 14% in a market that's down 24%.
From the 19th-largest U.S. seller in 2008, Subaru has leaped to the 11th, ahead of Volkswagen and within striking distance of Jeep.
Gunnar Heuberger, owner of Heuberger Subaru in Colorado Springs, Colo., the largest U.S. Subaru dealership, says that Subaru is getting the respect it deserves.
Subaru's decision to price their platform of all-wheel-drive cars at lower than a front-wheel-drive car is a hell of a deal and people see that. COO Tom Doll has announced that Subaru will end the year with sales of about 215,000 vehicles.
The year 2009 has been terrible for new-car sales; in fact, only two other brands, Kia and Hyundai, reported sales increases over 2008. However, in 2008, only Subaru and Mini were up.