Subaru dealers want more product.
'We still don't know how high Forester sales could go because nobody has been able to get as many as they would like,' said Don Hicks, chairman of the Subaru Dealer Advisory Board, after the Subaru make meeting. 'We're a pretty good-sized dealership, and we fight and scrape and scour the country for Foresters.'
The Subaru portion of the Subaru-Isuzu Automotive Inc. assembly plant in Lafayette, Ind., goes down for six weeks this year to prepare for the redesigned 2000 Legacy, which goes on sale in mid-July, Hicks said. In anticipation of the downtime, Subaru has begun stepping up production.
'So they are actually storing cars in Lafayette, the idea being the supply of cars will be seamless, until maybe right down to the very last minute,' Hicks said. He owns Shortline Subaru-Isuzu-Hyundai in Aurora, Colo.
Subaru dealers are enjoying record sales and the lowest incentives per car in many years, he said.
Demand from North America has probably exceeded expectations of Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., maker of Subaru cars, said George Muller, president of Subaru of America Inc.
'But they are studying ways to get us more cars out of Indiana as well as more cars out of Japan,' Muller said. 'It's a nice problem to have. We need to meet the demand for the dealers so they can build their business, too.'
Right now, dealer inventory is very balanced, and Subaru has made plans for a smooth transition into the 2000 model year with the redesigned Legacy, said Fred Adcock, vice president of sales.
Dealers said they want to keep actor Paul Hogan as the Subaru spokesman. 'Crocodile Dundee' has been good for Subaru, Hicks said.
Dealers also were told that Fuji Heavy Industries is investigating 'a businessman' who has found a way to obtain gray-market Subaru parts and compete with Subaru dealers.