One of the fastest growing automotive brands in the U.S. has a stubborn problem.
Despite its 11 straight years of U.S. sales increases, Subaru is wrestling with low quality scores and product recalls — issues that, if left unchecked, could interrupt its momentum.
Last week, Subaru again ranked in the bottom tier of the closely watched J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, with 113 problems per 100 vehicles in the annual survey.
Improving the public perception of its vehicle quality is at the forefront of the brand's efforts in the U.S., its largest market, and Japan.
"We're not used to the level of recalls that we've had," Subaru of America CEO Tom Doll said in an interview just before the release last week of this year's IQS results. "We're working with Subaru Corp. and they're working with everybody — their suppliers, the engineering staff and so forth.
"They're working very hard to make sure that as we get into the 2020 model years, and also with the launch of the new Legacy and Outback, the quality is top notch."
Doll acknowledged that Subaru has had problems during new-model launches.
"I believe they're making significant progress on addressing a lot of the issues and making sure they don't happen again."
Subaru has scored at or below the industry average in the IQS study every year since 2008. This year's score, while a slight improvement over last year's, was still well below the industry average.