Subaru boosts output, will target Sun Belt
LAS VEGAS -- Subaru inventories will be high enough to meet or exceed the brand's U.S. sales goal of 320,000 vehicles, executives told dealers at the make meeting.
Subaru is increasing production. Initially it will target allocation of vehicles to dealers in the Sun Belt states, where the automaker would like to boost sales, said Tom Doll, Subaru of America Inc.'s COO.
"The big news is inventory, inventory, inventory," said Phil Porter, owner of Subaru of Jacksonville and Subaru of Orange Park, both in Jacksonville, Fla. He also owns Center Subaru in Torrington, Conn., and is the incoming chairman of the Subaru National Dealer Advisory Board. Subaru is allocating to dealers "record numbers of vehicles, but demand is outpacing it," he said.
The automaker told dealers it has the ability to build 350,000 vehicles this year for the United States. Its U.S. sales goal is 320,000, Porter said.
"We've got adequate supplies of vehicles that are going to be coming. We're producing at a 30,000-unit-a-month pace, so that should get us enough inventory," Doll said.
Last year Subaru sold 15,000 vehicles in the Sun Belt, Doll said. This year it wants to sell 18,000 to 20,000 vehicles there. To achieve that, Subaru will do some "different allocations" to Sun Belt dealers over the next 30 days to be sure it gets supply to that region, Doll said.
"Sun Belt retailers need everything so it'll be a combination of all of our car lines," Doll said.
"We'll be fair to all of our retailers, but what we're going to try to do is target our Sun Belt retailers at a certain inventory level."
That level will depend on the demographics of each store, Doll said.
One New England dealer said even though he's not in a Sun Belt state, he is confident he'll get the inventory he needs.
"We do have cars in the right segments," said Bob Alvine, president of Premier Subaru in Branford, Conn., and the incoming vice chairman of Subaru's dealer advisory board.
Dealer Peter Maher of Mid-Hudson Subaru in Wappingers Falls, N.Y., said he has a 20- to- 30-day supply of vehicles now. But he is confident he'll get more soon.
"They are shipping cars at the highest rate they have ever shipped cars," he said.
Maher said there is strong demand for the new 2012 Impreza sedan and hatchback and for the Legacy sedan and the Outback crossover. Demand for the Tribeca SUV is on the "softer side," he said.
Inventories of the 2012 Impreza are at about a 15-day supply, Subaru's Doll said.
Subaru will begin marketing the Impreza aggressively around President's Day and will do so through the spring, Doll said.
Subaru told dealers it's on track to launch its new BRZ sporty coupe this spring and the XV Crosstrek crossover this fall.
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