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Subaru plans to double its unit sales in Europe

Japanese automaker plans to sell 100,000 autos a year in Western Europe in the medium-term

Friedberg, Germany. Subaru plans to expand its business in Europe substantially.

"We have increased our unit sales target for 2004 to 55,000 units. We plan to sell 100,000 units a year in West Europe by 2009, 2010 at the latest," Hiroyuki Ikeda, president of Subaru Europe, said in an interview with Automobilwoche. The original 2004 target was 50,000 autos. In 2003, it sold 39,000 in Europe.

"Currently the European business only represents 7 percent of our global unit sales, but there is an up-trend," Ikeda said.

Subaru hopes to sell around 760,000 autos worldwide by 2006, 70,000 in West Europe. Sales in 2003 were about 550,000.

Subaru's West European sales network comprises 557 authorized dealers at 700 locations. "It is not necessary to increase the number of dealers but to improve the quality," Ikeda said. Similar to in Japan, dealers will offer "driving days." Said Iked"Customers will have to experience our advantages for themselves."

The expansion of the German sales network continues. Currently there are 201 authorized and 170 service dealers with 374 locations. "We will achieve the planned total of 400 locations by the end of 2004," Germany boss Jens Becker said. Some of the new locations are in Duesseldorf, Essen, Freiburg, Cologne, Munich, Osnabrueck and Schwerin.

"We will increase the number of new registrations to 20,000 units in Germany by 2009," Becker said.

The model range is being expanded. In November, the Legacy 3.0R Spec.B with 245 hp will be introduced.

Group officials said that new versions of the best-sellers Forester and Impreza are planned for the end of 2005.

Subaru is also deciding if the R2 small car, which has already been launched in Japan, could also be introduced in Europe by the end of 2005.

An off-terrain high-capacity sedan with seven seats might follow by the end of 2006. "We need this flagship," said Becker. He is a member of the Subaru distributor advisory board and is one of three European managing directors who advise the group's head offices four times a year.

Becker believes that the potential top model could sell up to 500 units a year in Germany alone. "There is no doubt that 2,000 units would be possible should a diesel version be available."

But here lies the problem. Subaru is one of the few brands in Europe that offers no diesel models. And according to Europe boss Ikeda, this will not change.

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