NEW YORK - After setting a sales record for March, executives at Subaru of America Inc. say they are on track to boost sales 8 percent to 211,000 units this year.
The increase is driven largely by the B9 Tribeca SUV, says Fred Adcock, Subaru of America's executive vice president. Sales of the Tribeca, which was introduced last summer, rose from 1,560 units in February to 1,966 in March.
Adcock attributes the Tribeca's rising sales to growing shopper awareness and a new advertising push. Subaru launched the campaign in early January with the tag line, "It's what makes a Subaru a Subaru."
The campaign is backed by financing incentives, including an offer of 0 percent financing for 24 months on all models.
CEO Kunio Ishigami says Subaru aims to "beef up our brand image for awareness of Tribeca in the market and to advertise more than before on television."
He adds: "So many people still do not know what Tribeca is."
The conquest rate for the Tribeca is 60 percent. Adcock says that is "what we were aiming for."
In March, Subaru's total sales rose 10.1 percent compared with a year earlier to 19,048. The company sold 196,002 vehicles in 2005, up 4.6 percent from the year before.
At the New York auto show this month, Subaru introduced the spec.B, a high-performance version of its 2007 Legacy GT flagship sedan. The spec.B features a six-speed manual transmission, limited slip differential, vehicle stability control and traction control.
The spec.B and all turbocharged versions of the 2007 Legacy and Outback models are expected to have a new standard performance feature called SI-Drive. The feature "allows the driver to define the type of performance they want, when they want it," Adcock says. SI-Drive has settings for maximum fuel efficiency or more sporty performance.
Subaru has not announced prices or sales targets for the new performance models, which are scheduled to go on sale Aug. 1. "We'll start off with very conservative numbers because it appeals to a performance enthusiast," Adcock says.
Subaru introduced a limited high-performance version of the Legacy last year for $34,620, including shipping. But it produced only 500 of the cars.
You may e-mail Diana T. Kurylko at [email protected]