Subaru seeks continued US growth image

Fuji Heavy Industries automotive arm – Subaru – is the little Japanese automaker that could – from winning WRC titles to selling just all-wheel drive cars equipped with an engine technology no one else used.

All these we mentioned before – the World Rally Championship titles, the Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and the Boxer engine are part of the history and panache that comes with every Subaru model. The real David vs. Goliath feat was the US sales versus the global crisis. It’s the only carmaker to keep growing its sales in America during the worst recession in decades.

Back in 2009, when automakers were crumbling, General Motors and Chrysler were bankrupt; Subaru hit a new internal record of 217,000 units. That didn’t last, as next year the tally grew to 264,000 vehicles and in 2013 the brand was already at 425,000 cars – with a modest official forecast of 460,000 for 2014 – one that could be overcome by 3% to 5%, according to Jeff Walters, the US sales chief.

Subaru is “at a major turning point,” said Yasuyuki Yoshinaga, president of the maker’s parent Fuji Heavy Industries. “We’re not a carmaker that can grow as big as Toyota,” Yoshinaga told reporters last year. “And even if we could, reaching that sort of scale would mean we’d stop being Subaru.”

The momentum has been kept by the addition of new models, like the 2015 Subaru Legacy, Outback and WRX STI, or even the 2014 Forester, as the maker is ending the production for partner Toyota at the sole plant in the US it owns to make way for its own models.