NEW YORK – Subaru is aiming just shy of the 6-figure mark with its redesigned Impreza sedan, projecting annual sales in the U.S. of 80,000-90,000 units.
“If we can sell 100,000 of them we certainly will, but we set our sights just a little bit below that,” Tom Doll, COO-Subaru of America, tells WardsAuto in a recent interview here. “You get to the first milestone first,and then you get to the next one.”
While 80,000-90,000 units would be more than Subaru ever has sold of the Impreza in a calendar year – sales hit a record 68,175 in 2012 – it still is well below the annual volume rival Japanese compacts achieve.
The Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic are the cars most often cross-shopped against the Impreza but Doll says, “We’re not trying to sell (in) their numbers.”
Toyota and Honda delivered 363,332 and 335,384 Corollas and Civics, respectively, last year, WardsAuto data shows, making them the top-selling C-cars in the U.S. in 2015.
In recent years Subaru has seen sharp sales increases in its light-truck lineup, anchored by the Crosstrek compact CUV and Forester and Outback midsize CUVs, but the brand’s car growth has been slower.
However, thanks to increased car production last year and plans to further increase output this year and in coming years, that is beginning to change.
The Impreza’s 2015 sales were 15.2% higher than 2014. That’s not as high as the 25.3% climb in Crosstrek deliveries, but the Impreza and D-segment Legacy sedan (up 15.6%) saw more growth than the Forester (up 9.5%) and Outback (up 9.7%) in 2015.
The midsize CUVs still rule on volume, though: Each sold more than the Impreza and Legacy combined last year, the Forester with 175,192 and the Outback with 152,294 deliveries, making them the brand’s top-selling vehicles.
For the new ’17 model, Impreza production shifts from Japan to Subaru’s expanded Lafayette, IN, plant.
Doll says the plan is to get all Imprezas from Lafayette, but adds Subaru of America can lean on Japan for imported units if sales of the new C-car outpace capacity at the Indiana plant.
Subaru is more than doubling Lafayette capacity to 400,000 this year thanks to a variety of expansions and the dissolution of Toyota Camry production. Those measures will accommodate addition of the Impreza, as well as more builds of the Legacy and Outback.
Like the previous generation, the Impreza will be available in both sedan and 5-door body styles.
Doll says with the hatchback historically outselling the sedan 2:1, Subaru never considered ditching that body style.
He says the 5-door’s sales haven’t been harmed by the Crosstrek, which debuted 2½ years ago and rides on the current-generation Impreza platform.
“There’s a buyer that wants to have this type of practicality,” he says. “They don’t want even the smaller CUV we have, so they opt for this…Customers consider (them) to be two separate models.”