Mainstream Religion: Subaru Of America Smashes All-Time Monthly Outback Sales Record In October
Is it still a cult following if only six, undeniably mainstream utility vehicles are more popular?
Honda, Toyota, Ford, Nissan, Chevrolet, Ford…
Subaru? While the U.S. auto industry dropped 6 percent in October 2016, losing nearly 90,000 sales compared with October 2015, the Subaru Outback soared to new heights.
If the Subaru Outback is the leader of a cult, as Dan Neil wrote in the Wall Street Journal earlier this fall, the cult is now big enough that we ought to call it a mainstream religion.
Subaru of America reported an all-time monthly record of 18,008 Outback sales in October 2016, smashing the nameplate’s one-month-old record by over a thousand units.
SUV/crossover sales across America grew just 2 percent in October. Yet in spite of the market’s slowdown, limited supply, and an abbreviated sales month, Outback volume jumped 22 percent, year-over-year.
Subaru’s rapid American rise is built on the steady growth of its high-riding models: the Outback, Forester, and Crosstrek. Outback sales have grown by two-thirds over the last five years. The Forester, Subaru’s best-selling model so far this year, is on track for a fourth consecutive record sales year. The Crosstrek now outsells the combined efforts of the car on which it’s based: Impreza, WRX, STI.
With those three models producing nearly three-quarters of Subaru’s U.S. volume, the brand has already produced 76,000 more sales through the first ten months of 2016 than in all of 2013. In fact, the Crosstrek, Forester, and Outback have already generated 31,000 more sales through the first ten months of 2016 than the whole Subaru brand produced in all of 2012.
Those are the kinds of numbers that are backed up by rapidly ascending market share figures. Subaru owned 3.9 percent of the U.S. new vehicle market in October — 3.5 percent year-to-date — after rising to 3.3 percent in 2015, 2.1 percent five years ago, and just 1.2 percent a decade ago.
Yet plans to improve Subaru’s U.S. production footprint have by no means fully taken hold. “We will add over 100,000 [units] to U.S. capacity for next year,” a Subaru spokesperson told TTAC earlier this fall. Subaru had more vehicles to sell this October than last — a 23-day supply heading into October 2016; only 15 days heading into October 2015, according to Automotive News. The industry as a whole currently has a two-month supply of new vehicles.
As a result of Subaru’s limited supply, incentives remain at an industry low. TrueCar says Subaru spent just $1,130 on incentives per vehicle in October 2016, up significantly from $695 per vehicle in October 2015, up modestly from $1,088 per vehicle in September of this year.
But Subaru’s incentive spend this October was still 68-percent lower than the industry average. TrueCar reports that Subaru’s incentive spending as a percentage of Subaru’s average transaction price was just 3.8 percent in October 2016, again the lowest in the industry, and 64 percent below the industry average. Subaru’s average transaction price jumped 6 percent, year-over-year, to $29,356 in October 2016, 12 percent below the industry average, a reflection of a lineup that lacks a three-row utility vehicle.
As for the Outback, specifically, Subaru’s current flagship was responsible for one-third of the brand’s total U.S. volume in October. Year-over-year, Outback sales have increased in nine consecutive months. The 18,008-unit total achieved in October was fully 6 percent better than the Outback’s previous record set just one month earlier (the previous record stood for eight months) and positioned the Outback seventh among SUVs/crossovers last month.
Sounds mainstream to me.
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