Subaru of America expects to post a sales increase, albeit a small one, in 2008, and will set records for three of its vehicles, says Tom Doll, executive vice president.
Subaru sales were up 1.2 percent for the first 11 months. Total U.S. light-vehicle sales were down 16.3 percent.
"We're doing it a good way. The quality of our sales is very good. We aren't selling a massive number of cars to fleets," says Doll.
"We are settled mostly in niches, and our customer is better financially heeled than other car customers - we have good demographics."
Subaru isn't throwing money at the market. Its average incentive spending is $1,600 per vehicle, and its lowest finance rate is 3.9 percent. And Subaru expects to set records this year for sales of the Forester crossover, Legacy sedan and Impreza compact.
Subaru's biggest success is the redesigned Forester launched in May. Subaru made Forester 2 inches taller, added 4 inches in length to increase legroom in the rear and slashed $1,250 off the price, bringing it in at $19,995 before shipping, which adds $665. Sales have skyrocketed, giving Subaru an increase of 33.8 percent in Forester sales through November.
The Forester also got good residual ratings from the Automotive Lease Guide, which predicts the vehicle will retain 58 to 60 percent of the value after 36 months, says Doll.
The Impreza, available in a sedan and five-door, is still selling strong after 18 months on the market. Sales were up 9.6 percent through November. "A well equipped Impreza sells for under $20,000, and it comes with all-wheel drive."
Despite its age and a planned redesign due next year as a 2010 model, the Legacy sedan is selling well. Sales are up 9 percent for the first 11 months. Doll attributes the boom in Legacy sales to increased awareness in the market with new advertising by Subaru's new agency, Carmichael Lynch in Minneapolis.
With predictions for industrywide U.S. sales coming in lower and lower for next year, Doll hopes Subaru will maintain this year's sales level: "With the new president and promises to stimulate the economy, we are hopeful, but not anticipating big growth."