ELKHART LAKE, WI – The Outback and Forester CUVs are the most in-demand vehicles in the Subaru lineup and are helping the automaker enjoy its highest rate of conquest sales in company history, according to David Sullivan, manager-marketing strategy.
“Our conquest rate is five to one, which means for every one vehicle we lose to some other manufacturer we gain five more,” Sullivan says in an interview at the Midwest Automotive Media Assn.’s spring rally at the Road America race course here.
“Of course it helps when you are making and marketing products in the segment where the most sales growth is in the industry.”
Though CUVs are leading the way, Sullivan says Subaru is benefiting from the all-wheel-drive technology employed in almost all of its cars yet is offered by few competitors.
“Our cars are doing well, and Legacy is at a 20-days’ supply of unsold cars, while Impreza is at a 25-days’ supply. Actually, except for the (rear-wheel-drive) BRZ, all of our vehicles’ sales are up from a year ago,” he says. “Any place that has bad weather makes people feel safer and more secure with all-wheel drive.”
While CUVs and SUVs are dominating the market, Sullivan says things inevitably will change.
“We’ll focus more on cars again,” he says. “Whenever gas prices are down crossovers and SUVs do well and outsell cars, but at some point gas prices will go up again and car sales will go back up again to where they were.”
What about more alternative-fuel vehicles, with the Crosstrek the only Subaru hybrid offered today?
“We already offer very good fuel economy as well as all-wheel drive in all our vehicles now,” Sullivan says.
Subaru sold 540,000 vehicles in the U.S. in 2014 and will top that in 2015, though Sullivan isn’t specific: “Just say, by more.”
The next target is 600,000 annual vehicle sales. It will help that Subaru will stop making Camrys for Toyota at its plant in Indiana and start adding much-needed volume of its own sometime in 2016.
“Negotiations are still going on for the exact date,” Sullivan says. “The line that now makes 100,000 Camry sedans annually will produce Impreza and Outback instead and could do Legacy.”