NEW YORK — Amid a chronic shortage of dealership service technicians, record new-vehicle sales could make Subaru the neediest brand of all. In response, the automaker is stepping up its already active support for entry-level tech training programs.
"We have 6,677 techs" at Subaru's 631 U.S. dealerships, says Mike Campbell, vice president of service and quality for Subaru of America. "We need to double that in the next three to four years."
Subaru is the only mainstream auto brand that grew during the Great Recession, putting together 10 straight years of U.S. sales records as of 2018. Subaru sold 680,135 new vehicles last year in the United States, up 5 percent from 2017.
As a result of that growth, Subaru's U.S. vehicles in operation have more than doubled in the past six years, to about 3.5 million, the company says. By 2024, Subaru expects to have more than 5 million vehicles in operation.
All automotive brands — even those that aren't growing as fast as Subaru — face a critical need for dealership technicians, the National Automobile Dealers Association says. NADA is making a priority of helping would-be technicians find training.
About 39,000 new auto technicians graduate from U.S. technical colleges and training programs each year, NADA estimates. But it projects that new-vehicle dealerships must replace nearly 76,000 technicians each year just to keep up with retirements, defections to other industries and growing demand for service.