Once merely a niche automaker of all-wheel-drive cars and station wagons, Subaru has evolved into a volume player, selling 336,441 vehicles in the U.S. last year, and aiming for 365,000 in 2013. The automaker is anticipating the 2014 Subaru Forester compact crossover will bridge most of the distance. Judging from our initial impressions, we’d say they’re on to something.
Alas, Subaru says there’s further room to grow, expanding with perhaps a larger, more luxurious crossover that would eventually replace the Subaru Tribeca–likely based upon a longer, wider Forester platform–and a more powerful sports car.
The Tribeca has been a disappointment for Subaru, perhaps too small, too expensive, and too thirsty to compete against vehicles like the Chevrolet Traverse, Honda Pilot, and other three-row crossovers. Ken Lin, director of product management for Subaru, told WardsAuto that “Luxury is certainly one of the opportunities with profit potential. We could do touring editions of products but would not be competing with BMW or Mercedes. There is no move to create another brand.”
Lin said that despite poor sales, the Tribeca wasn’t in trouble. He also spoke about the Subaru BRZ, noting that its 4,144 sales in the U.S. is right where it needs to be. While Toyota’s Scion FR-S is nearly tripling the BRZ’s sales, Subaru recouped more of the costs in that Toyota paid Subaru for its engineering expertise. Toyota owns 20 percent of Subaru and shares its plant in Indiana for production of the Camry.
Lin said that a sportier car, likely borrowing the Forester XT’s turbocharged 2.0-liter, 250-horsepower engine, would also arrive soon. While it’s certain that engine is headed to the next-generation Subaru WRX, there have been rumors that it could be headed to the BRZ as well, as it’s lighter and smaller than the turbocharged engines Subaru has previously sold.
But fret not, hybrid lovers. Subaru isn’t ignoring you for the sports car crowd.
The brand is planning to introduce a hybrid later this year, but it didn’t go into further details as to what car it would be in. A good bet would be either the Impreza that went on sale as a 2012 model or the next-generation Legacy, which could be shown soon.
Lin says it’s expected more to appease environmentalists that Subaru typically attracts rather than become a volume seller.