Subaru wants new hybrids to obtain record sales in the U.S.

Article by Christian Andrei, on August 29, 2010

Subaru may have been recently experiencing excellent sales records but for it to stay competitive in the long run, it believes that it has to have hybrids in its lineup. Subaru predicts that in the next two years, it will have record US sales.

In fact, US sales this year will top the brand's record of 200,703 set in 2006 and will rise again next year, according to Ikuo Mori, president of Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., the maker of Subaru vehicles.

Sales improved due to the cash-for-clunkers program and the summer rollout of the redesigned Legacy sedan and Outback wagon. Mori fully expects a sales record this year even if the new Legacy and Outback only contributed to a few months of sales.

Next year, those two models will add to full-year sales and Subaru is confident of getting another all-time record. The U.S. light-vehicle market may have been down 27% for the first nine months, but Subaru is one of only three brands -- along with Kia and Hyundai -- to post a sales increase.

Subaru's US sales are up 10 percent from 2008. Subaru bemoans the fact that it trails Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. in producing fuel-efficient hybrids and compact cars.

Subaru didn´t sit around to find out how its shortcomings would affect it in the future and formed an alliance with Toyota to gain access to green-car technology. Mori asserted that to stay in the race, Subaru needs more alternative drivetrains.

Subaru is compelled to consider long-range emissions regulations, which are very difficult to achieve with its current gasoline engines. Hence, Mori saw the need for a hybrid system.

Mori said that Subaru's task is to integrate green-car technology with distinctive Subaru performance. Subaru's current challenge stems from the realization that it lacks a platform that can accommodate Toyota 's hybrid system.

This indicates that the first hybrid likely will be timed with a full model change. Subaru plans to launch a hybrid early next decade. One of the things being considered is a hybrid system teamed with Subaru's all-wheel-drive layout.

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