DETROIT -- Subaru of America's sales will grow at a more moderate rate for the next few years as it focuses on customer service and dealership capacity, President Tom Doll said.
Subaru of America sales likely will rise to about 500,000 by 2016 as the brand adds capacity at its only U.S. plant, Doll said during a speech at the Automotive News World Congress.
Subaru has been one of the fastest-growing brands in the United States during the past five years. Sales last year jumped 26 percent to 424,683.
Doll said Subaru will "have to moderate that growth." It will focus on improving customer service and making sure dealers can handle the growing number of vehicles coming in for service, he said.
"We have sold so many cars we do not have the service structure at our retailers to handle all the vehicles coming back," Doll said.
"Our challenge over the next couple years is to make sure we have the necessary service capacity -- the lifts, service bays, technicians, better waiting rooms and loaner cars -- so that when customers do come in for service we have everything in place to handle them."
In an interview, Doll elaborated on Subaru's Fixed Operations Expansion, or FOX, program. He said Subaru wants to build customer loyalty by providing an appealing dealership experience to first-time owners drawn in during the past few years.
Costs will vary from $100,000 to $2 million per store, Doll said. Subaru is working with dealers to create individual plans.
"We're already getting packages in from dealers on what they want to do," he said.
Subaru expects its sales to grow 6 to 8 percent in 2014 and perhaps another 7 to 8 percent the next year, he said.
Subaru does not need another U.S. factory and is expanding annual capacity at its plant in Lafayette, Ind., by 100,000 units, to 300,000, by the end of 2016. The plant, which makes the Outback and Tribeca crossovers and the Legacy sedan, also will produce the Impreza four- and five-door compact.
Doll said Subaru will have an electric car by 2018 to meet stringent regulations in California. Late last year, Subaru's first hybrid, the XV Crosstrek Hybrid, went on sale.
Doll said Subaru will replace its Tribeca crossover with a true seven-seat vehicle, but he didn't say when. "We are working on it," he said.
Subaru is not developing that vehicle jointly with its partner Toyota Motor Corp., he said.