Subaru to expand Lafayette plant to increase Legacy, Outback production

Article by Christian A., on May 19, 2012

Subaru will expand its Lafayette plant in Indiana to increase production of the Legacy sedan and wagon as well as the Outback crossover. The 52,000-square-foot expansion of the facility's body assembly section costs $75 million. This project will begin this summer and will raise the factory's capacity to 180,000 units during regular shifts, the automaker revealed.

Subaru said that the present limit is 156,000 vehicles on straight time. The expansion is also anticipated to bring 100 full-time jobs, according to the company. The Lafayette facility has 3,600 employees, with at least 600 jobs added since 2009. It also manufactures the Tribeca SUV as well as Toyota's Camry sedan.

The expansion confirms plans for more North American capacity, which Subaru parent Fuji Heavy Industries hinted during a May 8 press conference in Japan. Subaru recently dismissed a plan to manufacture vehicles in China by 2016.

It will focus on raising North American output instead. Aside from increasing output at its Indiana facility, Subaru may raise North American production with a new automobile line or even a new facility, Automotive News reported this week.

In 2011, at least half of Subaru's automobiles sold in North America were manufactured at the Indiana facility, which opened in 1987. The factory produced 170,629 units in the 2012 fiscal year, but overtime shifts daily and Saturday were required to reach the figure.

Another reason why Subaru has increased production in Indiana since 2010 is to offset foreign exchange rates that adversely affected profits on imported automobiles. Fuji Heavy President Yasuyuki Yoshinaga wants the Indiana facility to manufacture 200,000 units a year by 2014.

Revealed at Subaru of America, Inc.’s media conference at the 2009 New York International Auto show is the fourth-generation of the World’s First Sport Utility Wagon - the 2010 Subaru Outback. Made more spacious, the 2010 Outback is a more updated version of a crossover trend which started 15 years before it. It has a bolder and crisper styling and an enhanced level of performance, comfort and economy, thanks to its all-new chassis and the new Subaru Lineartronic CVT (continuously variable transmission). A first is its swing-out roof rail and crossbar design while on the other hand, it gets an improved 8.7-inch ground clearance.

Compared to other crossover vehicles, the 2010 Subaru Outback is “smart-sized” – meaning, it now has a “mid-sized interior volume in an easy-to-maneuver and off-road capable wagon body”.

It’s roomier with its interior volume increased by roughly 8% considering it is much shorter than the 2009 model. Built on an all-new platform with a longer 107.9-inch wheelbase (2.8 inches longer than the 2009 model), the 2010 Outback delivers a smoother ride with increased interior space – its rear seat legroom increased by nearly 4 inches to 37.8 inches.

To improve chassis dynamics and rear cargo space, the 2010 Outback is fitted with a new rear double wishbone suspension. Being 2 inches wider compared to the outgoing model, the 2010 Outback is more fuel efficient and has more headroom which translates to improved passenger comfort (more space for the hips and shoulders).

That being said, its total passenger room is increased to 105.4 cu. ft. (an 8-cu. ft. increase from its predecessor), and when rear seatbacks are folded, its maximum cargo capacity increases by 6 cu. ft. to 71.3 cu. ft. More so, compared to the usual small SUVs, the 2010 Subaru Outback has a deeper and wider rear cargo which can be easily accessed through its wide aperture rear hatch.

While the 2010 Outback still quite relates to its predecessor, its bolder look is a whole different story. Now with a wider track and expressive wheel arches, the 2010 Subaru Outback commands even greater presence on the road.

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