Editor's note: An earlier headline incorrectly stated the region in which Subaru expects 700,000 annual sales. It has been corrected.
TOKYO (Bloomberg) -- Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd.’s Subaru sees sales of 700,000 vehicles in North America as early as in 2017 as it dodges a slump in China.
The carmaker may sell more than 600,000 vehicles in North America in 2015, five years ahead of its mid-term plan, Fuji Heavy CEO Yasuyuki Yoshinaga said in an interview at the company’s headquarters in Tokyo. Subaru has gained market share in the U.S. as the brand long known for all-wheel-drive vehicles continued to win more mass-market customers.
American consumers purchased more passenger vehicles than their Chinese counterparts for a second straight month in August, helped by affordable fuel prices and as an equities rout in China sapped discretionary spending. Subaru, which earlier this year put its China production effort on hold, is cutting exports to the world’s largest auto market and is shipping more cars to the U.S., where its deliveries have risen for 45 consecutive months.
“The China slump won’t have any impact on our earnings,” Yoshinaga said on Friday. “Even if we divert the gap in China sales all to the U.S., we still won’t meet the demand there.”
Subaru’s deliveries in China may fall below 50,000 units this year from 55,000 in 2014, Yoshinaga said. The carmaker had targeted 2015 sales of 60,000 vehicles there.
Through August of this year, Subaru sold 375,632 vehicles in the U.S., an increase of 13 percent. Last year, the automaker sold 513,693 vehicles, 21 percent more than in 2013.
Subaru’s market share rose to 3.2 percent in the U.S. this year through August, compared with 3 percent in the same period a year earlier, according to researcher Autodata Corp. North America is Subaru’s largest market, led in sales by its Outback crossover and Forester SUV.
To further strengthen its lineup in the U.S., Subaru will introduce a seven-seat SUV exclusive to the North American market, Yoshinaga said. Production of the SUV will start at its plant in Lafayette, Ind., after 2017, he said, without being more specific.