Subaru aims to increase Chinese vehicle sales by only 3000 image

Japanese automobile manufacturer Subaru saw its Chinese sales nearly double last year, increasing from 35,000 vehicles sold in 2009 to 57,000 in 2010.

Despite having had its name moved up several places among largest foreign brands in the country, Subaru is especially cautious in approaching this year, with Takahashi Kazuya, head of Subaru Automobiles (China)’s Enterprise Planning division, stating that the company aims to sell 60,000 vehicles this year.

Suzuki Issei, general manager and chairman of Subaru’s Chinese branch, attributed Subaru’s dramatic increase in sales last year to its imported Legacy and Outback models, with sales of the latter tripling, as well as continuing support for its Forester SUV. Mr. Suzuki continued to say that Subaru will expect the market to slow down in 2011, with the company’s growth rate to be within 10 percent.

Many in the industry found Subaru’s growth plan of 3,000 additional sales to be extremely conservative. Mr. Suzuki agreed, saying that “[while] last year it was clear that China’s economy was still very strong, this year there are several factors in the market which are more subtle.” He said that the company would rely on consumer word-of-mouth and improved performances from new and smaller dealers to fulfill its sales goal.

Subaru has never been especially talkative when addressing the controversial question of beginning domestic production, with Mr. Takahashi saying, “any matters of joint ventures will be made according to Fuji Heavy Industry (Subaru’s parent company).” He added that currently the company was in the process of negotiations with several factories. Subaru refused to comment on recent reports linking the company with Chery Automobile.

By Carmen Lee From