The best situation for any company is always to have one more interested customer than the number of products you have to sell. So it must be a good dilemma for Subaru to have that it has 8,000 customers already lined up in Japan for its 2014 Subaru Forester, far outnumbering the 2,000 people it had projected. Better still, most of those customers are opting for Subaru’s premium EyeSight collision prevention technology.
In its first month, Subaru has seen a little over 60 percent of its customers opt for its non-turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, which won’t be offered in the base-model Forester. The other 40 percent are getting the 250-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter engine we’ll be seeing. As a base engine, we’re still going to get the 2.5-liter engine as standard in the U.S, which produces about 25 more horsepower than the 148-horsepower non-turbo 2.0-liter. That take rate for each engine doesn’t seem too abnormal.
However, what is amazing is that 86.6 percent of Subaru’s customers in Japan are opting for EyeSight, which has two cameras placed above the rearview mirror that sense when a driver is either crossing over lines on the highway, or when the Subaru is approaching an oncoming vehicle too quickly. Unlike most systems in mainstream vehicles, Subaru’s doesn’t just flash lights to alert drivers of impending doom and gloom. It will actually apply the brakes for the driver if it senses the driver isn’t doing it for himself or herself.
This is a massive success for Subaru, as initial feedback has suggested that EyeSight makes customers feel secure. At the moment, we just get it in top-level Subaru Legacy and Outback models, but we imagine it will be trickling down throughout the lineup in the U.S. sooner rather than later. In Japan, it’s available in all but the most basic Forester.
So what do these numbers mean to you? While the Japanese market is vastly different than the U.S., we anticipate there will be a surge in technology available in more mainstream vehicles like the Forester. After all, Ford proved it could sell something like MyFord Touch and Sync in a more basic car like the Focus, and it’s bringing it to the subcompact Fiesta.
The 2014 Subaru Forester has not yet gone on sale in the U.S., as we just saw it in the U.S. for the first time at last month’s Los Angeles Auto Show. But we anticipate its arrival in the first half of 2013. We’ll have a better idea then if such technologies can echo the kind of sales seen in Japan around that time.