By on March 3, 2009

If you’re looking for uplifting, feel-good news about the auto biz, this is about as good as it gets. Subaru sales edged up about 1 percent compared to February of last year, carried by a staggering 101 percent increase in Forester sales. Subaru sold 5,978 of the recently redesigned, Impreza-based utes last month. All other models were down month-on-month, with Tribeca (−58 percent) and Outback (−37 percent) faring worst. Hyundai sales were down compared to last February, but only by 1.5 percent, a hell of an accomplishment in this market. Genesis is chugging along with 1,263 leaving dealer lots in February, but bread-and-butter Sonata sales are at about half of 2008 levels. Elantra sales are up by over 2k units though. SUV sales are taking an wholly unsurprising beating, while the Entourage sold nearly 2,500 units. Kia (via PRNewswire) is up a whopping .4 percent, with Sedona, Sorento and Amanti all seeing increases over last February. First-ever Kia Soul sales hit only 34 as the newest Kia hits dealerships.

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32 Comments on “And Now For Some Less Depressing News: Hyundai And Subaru Sales...”


  • avatar
    Brian E

    The Entourage is a minivan (remember those?), not a SUV.

    Good work by Subaru and Hyundai. While the Forester’s freshening was panned by TTAC, obviously the market has responded positively to it.

  • avatar
    bluecon

    The American taxpayer just bought Chrysler and GM, how is this gonna cheer them up?

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    bluecon:

    Ha, you would think that giving them more than five times their combined market cap would have bought them, but no. They are still privately held and begging for more.

    The Sonata and Forester, some of the stand out cars in the Hyundai and Subaru lineups, in terms of sales, are made in the US, so this is good news for US jobs.

  • avatar

    Perhaps companies become unwieldy after reaching a certain size. Perhaps the saying should be changed to, “too big to succeed.”

    Then again, maybe Americans just suck at business, or excel at personal profiteering.

  • avatar

    Oh great… the new Subaru “dulled down” Forester is selling like hot cakes. I hope this doesn’t give Subaru and Toyota the proof they need to soften the new Legacy as well.

  • avatar
    McDoughnut

    You know, I’ve always wanted to buy a Subaru for years and years. They seem like the same kind of cars Mercedes Benz must have been back in the 50′s and 60′s. My sure dad loved his MB 220 SE.

    Unfortunately, each model year I come to same conclusion – you ran out of budget after making the engine, transmission and 4 wheel drive systems - so once again the interiors appear to be made from recycled plastic bottles.

    Oh well, 2010 models are only about 8 months out.

  • avatar
    ARacer

    Yeah, but how long will Forester sales hold up? I hope Subaru survives and avoids the fate of Volvo, Saab and other niche players. I like my WRX and at 190,000 miles it is still running strong. Some day I’d like to get another Subaru and I hope they are still around when that time comes.

  • avatar
    wmba

    McDoughnut said: “so once again the interiors appear to be made from recycled plastic bottles.”

    But really, really tough recycled plastic bottles, not unlike the MBTex vinyl used on old Mercedes seats!

    Seriously, I agree with you, although my Legacy’s interior is nice enough.

    BTW, the Forester is 100% made in Japan. It’s an Impreza in disguise wearing lipstick and high heels. Impreza’s are all made in Japan as well.

    Since I plan on keeping mine for awhile, I’m glad that Subaru are so far able to weather the storm and keep their dealerships going.

  • avatar
    SkiD666

    Wouldn’t Hyundai’s sales be ‘good’ because they took over the fleet sales from Chrysler and GM?

  • avatar
    AdamYYZ

    I think these two surrender monkeys should get back into World Rally.

    Until then, I say GOOD DAY.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Something is weird about Subaru….

    It just seems odd to me that they’ve been eeking out these minuscule sales gains while everyone else tanks. Its giving me the feeling that something is going on. Like they know they’re close to being the only company with sales gains, so each month, they somehow get those few extra units of sales to get them above the zero-line.

    It looks good on paper to be the only company who didn’t have a sales downturn.

    I have to agree on the Subaru interiors. The Legacy I can live with, though it is nothing fancy. Get into an Impreza/WRX/Forester and its like being delivered back to the 90′s. I put those cars in the same boat with the garbage interiors on older GM products like the TrailBlazer or Cobalt. They’re terrible.

  • avatar
    dgduris

    I have been waiting all day to hear what the Subaru number would be.

    Scooby Dooby Doo!!!!!!!

    Great cars, good values and, yes, outside of the higher end Legacy and Outbacks – the interiors could use an upgrade in materials.

  • avatar
    wsn

    Jerome10 said:

    Something is weird about Subaru….

    It just seems odd to me that they’ve been eeking out these minuscule sales gains while everyone else tanks. Its giving me the feeling that something is going on. Like they know they’re close to being the only company with sales gains, so each month, they somehow get those few extra units of sales to get them above the zero-line.

    It looks good on paper to be the only company who didn’t have a sales downturn.

    Not only on paper. Since their sales actually increased, they are selling at MSRP. No discount at all. My local Subaru dealership is crowded on weekends.

    I guess they got all the conquest sales from those who would have bought 328′s or A4′s. Those people aren’t willing to pay a German price tag in the current environment and yet refuse to identify themselves as a Toyota driver…

  • avatar
    wsn

    no_slushbox said:
    Ha, you would think that giving them more than five times their combined market cap would have bought them, but no. They are still privately held and begging for more.

    I don’t know what’s the cap for Crys-lie. But assuming it’s half of GM for simplicity. Then they have a combined cap of $1.8B.

    The total bailout so far is about $60B. So that enough to buy the two of them 33 times over. But the taxpayers still don’t own them.

  • avatar
    bluecon

    Technically the US taxpayer doesn’t own them. In reality they bought the UAW. The companies are worth negative billions because of the obligations to the union workers and retirees.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    The Subaru sales is easy to explain. People are going to need AWD in the coming Mad Max apocalypse.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    “AdamYYZ :
    March 3rd, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    I think these two surrender monkeys should get back into World Rally.

    Until then, I say GOOD DAY.”

    x2

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    “Jerome10 :
    March 3rd, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    Something is weird about Subaru….”

    entirely possible. When Honda was about to lose the crown of top setting motorcycle manufacturer in Canada they “encouraged” their dealers to register some of their units in their own name at the end of each month, offering rebates and to reset the warranty when an actual customer came to buy it.

  • avatar
    umterp85

    Edward—I see that you note that “Genesis is chugging along with 1,263 units sold in Feb”….yet in your Ford report fail to mention the new Lincoln MKS sales at all. You could not find a shred of good news and note that MKS sales chugged along as well (1346) ? Realize that would have not fit the “Ford is tanking” hypothesis—but just sayin.

  • avatar
    Happy_Endings

    I hope Subaru survives and avoids the fate of Volvo, Saab and other niche players.

    They should, if they stick to their niche of making reliable cars that are great in the snow belt. Volvo had a reputation for safety, but they tried to go for style and lost their way. Saab was just … different, with the unique ignition key set-up and it’s looks. But now they’re not all that different from other cars out there. If Subaru starts making too many models and tries to make itself a bigger company, it will lose it’s loyal following and won’t gain more customers. If it sticks to it’s core, it will continue to be relatively successful. Perhaps Toyota will let them continue with this market instead of interfering like Ford did with Volvo and GM did with Saab.

    No one else really does what Subaru does and there is a limited, but lucrative market for it. It’s too small for a bigger company to compete on all cars.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Subaru is doing well because they are at the sweet spot in their refresh cycle. The Impreza is a year old, and the Forrester new. That’s 2 of their 3 mainstream models. I still question whether a mainstream automaker of their limited scale can survive long term, but no one can argue with their results lately.

    Hyundai’s performance is impressive, relative to competitors. I think the insurance policy they offer new car buyers(the ability to return the vehicle if you lose your job) is brilliant marketing.

  • avatar
    ReGZ_93

    No surprise here for Subaru. They have a very loyal customer base that isn’t impacted as severely by a change in the economic climate.

    When my Father worked for Subaru America, the majority of the cars sold were trade ins for a newer model. The buyers usually never leased, and almost always put money down.

  • avatar
    vwet9394

    How can Hyundai & Subaru buyers borrow money in this market?

  • avatar
    ReGZ_93

    How can Hyundai & Subaru buyers borrow money in this market?

    I can answer for Subaru buyers. They can put money down on the car, and on average, their credit is very good.

    Subaru still has a factory finance arm.

  • avatar
    kurtamaxxguy

    Subaru did mucho market research before changing the Forester to ’09 version. Enthusiasts are unhappy (“where’s the manual? (it didn’t sell), “it tips in turns” (suspension’s designed for bad roads, not race tracks).

    And though Forester’s upper model interiors are too cheap, General public likes and is buying them in droves.

    Meanwhile, Subaru is considering a WRX STI A-line, first for Japan, that uses their 5-speed auto rather than the present 6-speed manual.

    As for Hyundai, they have this RWD turbo coupe that’s about to be fantastically popular with tuners.

  • avatar
    MBella

    Subaru doesn’t have a finance arm. Subaru Motor Finance is just a logo they started putting on envelopes a little over a year ago. Before they said Chase Motor Finance. Chase finances Subaru’s loans, and that’s why I can pay my “Subaru Motor Finance” bills at any Chase branch.
    http://www.allbusiness.com/services/business-services/3987041-1.html

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Hyundai’s Assurance plan is interesting, very interesting. Great marketing right now, I agree, and it may very well be a big reason they’re not doing SO badly.

    However (and I might be a real Debbie Downer here….) I have a very bad feeling that things are still going to get a lot worse before they get better. Should that happen, and Hyundai owners start losing their jobs in droves and returning their cars, the current brilliant marketing move will quickly turn into the stupidest idea anyone has ever heard.

    Remember Mitsubishi? 0% financing to anyone with a pulse, oh maybe 5-10 years ago? They were the fastest growing brand in the US. Then everyone started defaulting and they lost their shorts. Could see the same here.

    Of course, maybe Hyundai is looking at it that if even if the Assurance plan backfires later, things would have to have gotten so bad in the general economy that any negatives from the Assurance plan will be dwarfed by the other problems they will be facing at that time. Annual car sales in the US of 5 million units or less is going to be a hell of a lot bigger problem for them than the glut of Assurance Plan returns they might have to take back…..

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Oh, I should add….Subaru buyers are kinda a strange bunch. That would explain why they would be buying the Forester in droves….

    Just seems a very odd car to be selling like hotcakes right now. I can’t imagine frugal Forester owners were just itching to trade in their first gen cars for a new one, especially in this economy…..wouldn’t they be too in love with their old one that had 250,000 miles and no mechanical problems to go and waste money on a replacement? :)

    Maybe I should clarify that Forester buyers are kinda the strange bunch. I know there are WRX fanatics and all that jazz, but only the Forester seems to have this massive cult following for what is a pretty plain-jane SUV….

  • avatar
    grog

    I purchased an 09 Forester at the tail of last June. And yes, it has a manual transmission (the 4-speed auto really does suck). If I watch my speed, I can get 31mpg on the highway.

    The thing is huge on the inside. And despite what everybody seems to think, it’s not that plasticy-cheap on the inside and we bought the absolute rock bottom model/trim line.

    And no, I’m not a Subbie fanatic. I owned a crappy one back around 1984-5 and haven’t had any interest in them sense.

    It’s a really good vehicle. My only complain is the angle of the accelerator. It’s too vertical so your foot/lower leg gets cramped on long trips (I’m not a big cruise control person).

    So, again, it’s selling well because word’s getting around that it’s an affordable, nicely done, incredibly spacious small SUV.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    I am not sure why there is so much complaining on the subie interiors. My uncle came for a visit last weekend and he wanted to see my car (on March 15 it turns 4!).

    He asked me if it was brand new. He absolutely couldn’t believe it was 4 years old…and he made the comment after looking at the interior.

    YMMV I guess.

    For me the interior really has 2 purposes:

    1) Be intuitive. Steering wheel, shifter, etc should be in the “normal” spot. I really don’t want a start button or any fancy gimmicks. I want the tach & speed over the wheel like a normal car.

    2) It shouldn’t fall apart in a short time.

    Pretty much everything else is secondary. I haven’t yet found car I have not been comfortable in for a long drive (I have taken the STi on 3 & 4 hour trips just fine).

  • avatar
    wsn

    SherbornSean said:
    Subaru is doing well because they are at the sweet spot in their refresh cycle. The Impreza is a year old, and the Forrester new. That’s 2 of their 3 mainstream models.

    That’s not a sound reason. Honda Accord is new and very competitive too, but its sales tanked.

  • avatar
    mart_o_rama

    It’s been mentioned several time but it should be put forth:

    Subaru cars are “nicely done”: that means that they are putting their manufacturing money where it counts for the market that they’ve targeted. Subaru is a Japanese company, where design philosophy has “practicality” over “feeling”, in a “reasonable” way. That’s why their car have solid/proven drivetrains (where the money counts) and so-so interiors (where “nice” means costly to manufacture, instead Subaru uses proven but dated components).

    They’ve targeted customers that wants a vehicle that’s convenient and don’t care about gimmicks. That’s probably also why their Sales are keeping up a bit longer than the others, because the “feeling” part of their sales (the potential customers that buys on an impulse, or buys because of that special something they liked. Hint: there’s none of that in a Subaru, as depressing as it is, notwithstanding the marketing objects that are the STi for example) couldn’t not leave when the overall economy slows down because they were not even there in the first place.

    One could say the same of Honda and Toyota, but they went slightly upscale on most of their model, so that doesn’t match well with an economic downturn.

    The next monthly sales report will be interesting to see if the trend keeps up.

    Martin


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