Subaru's U.S. growth over the past 15 years continues to put pressure on its dealers' service operations. And that's a challenge the automaker will confront in 2020, said Tom Doll, CEO of Subaru of America.
Subaru sold 700,117 units last year, a huge volume growth from its 187,402 sales in 2004.
The Subaru franchise needs more service capacity, Doll said Sunday.
"Many of our retailers are in great locations and they're making investments, but we still don't have enough service capacity at the retailer level to handle this tremendous rise and increase in our" units in operation, Doll told Automotive News after the brand's make meeting.
"So we're continuing to work with our retailers and making sure they have the right capacity, the right number of technicians and stalls, making those investments that are necessary."
But, Doll said, "We need to support them through various programs and assistance and so forth, so they can continue to handle and treat the customers well."
Competition will be fierce as the market flattens, he said. But Subaru won't have to conquest as much as in the past to be successful, because of the customer loyalty levels it now enjoys, Doll said.
Subaru led mass-market brands in J.D. Power's brand loyalty study last year with a loyalty rating of 61.5 percent. The study calculated whether an owner purchased the same brand after trading in an existing vehicle on a new-vehicle purchase or lease.
Wally Sommer, president of Sommer's Subaru in Mequon, Wis., said the brand has "the right attributes that our customers want, and then certainly a lot of it falls on retailers to make sure the experience is the what the customers want."
"Subaru helps us with that," Sommer added, "so I think we'll be able to continue that."