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CARS Trades, New Models Bring Subaru A Record Year Of Sales

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2010 Subaru Outback PZEV

2010 Subaru Outback PZEV

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2010 Subaru Outback

2010 Subaru Outback

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2010 Subaru Forester

2010 Subaru Forester

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2010 Subaru Forester

2010 Subaru Forester

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2010 Subaru Legacy 3.6R

2010 Subaru Legacy 3.6R

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As overall auto sales have slumped, Subaru has been one of the few bright spots in the auto industry this year, with many year-over-year sales increases to report; in fact, through November of this calendar year, Subaru has already sold as many vehicles as it did in all of last year. And over the past year, Subaru has gone from the 19th best-selling brand to the 12th.

How did this happen? Director of corporate communications Michael McHale says that Subaru has had two really “good weather” things happen this year. They’ve kept loyalty rates high, and because its lineup of cars is “right-sized” for the market, they’re reaching many people for the first time.

The other thing is that the federal government’s Cash for Clunkers (CARS) program earlier this year was especially beneficial to reaching out and making conquests. Out of 17,000 cash-for-clunkers trades to Subaru dealerships, only 173 of the vehicles were Subarus. New Subaru buyers most often come to the brand from Honda and Ford products, he said.

Increased awareness about all-wheel drive has played a role in Subaru’s boost this year; so has the slightly larger size of the Legacy and Outback, which have been a hit so far. McHale also says that Subaru continues to see a lot of highly educated luxury buyers who "underpurchase"—doctors, teachers, lawyers, and professional people—all in professions that likely have a little more stability than other demographic groups.

The brand has also gained a footing in the South this year, with significant sales gains in Texas, Southern California, and Florida—all places where Subaru’s all-wheel drive strategy wasn’t as convincing in the past. The brand has long been strong in New England, the Rocky Mountain states, and the Northwest.

Subaru had its lowest inventory in 14 years this summer for a time, according to McHale, and its Indiana plant, which assembles the Legacy, Outback, and Tribeca is “cranking out every car they can.”

Just earlier this week, Subaru won three Residual Value Awards (likely heralding strong resale values) from ALG, with the Forester and Outback winning the top awards in their respective classes.

 
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