With Mostly American Support, Subaru Claims Global All-Wheel-Drive Sales Supremacy, Stomps On Quattro

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

No auto brand in the world sells more all-wheel-drive vehicles than Subaru, says Subaru.

Autocar is reporting figures from Subaru UK that say 15 percent of the global market for all-wheel-drive vehicles is scooped up by the Subaru brand.

In Subaru’s fiscal year from April 2015 to April 2016, the automaker finished with nearly 1 million sales of all-wheel drive vehicles — 245,382 more than the next-highest-volume all-wheel-drive provider: Audi.

Branded as Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, Subaru’s AWD system appears in 99.3 percent of the Subarus sold in America, the brand’s largest market.

Subaru’s U.S. surge is well documented.

The brand, TTAC said not long ago, is so popular now that Subaru is now decidedly mainstream.

Despite a slowdown in the market overall, Subaru will sell more vehicles in America this year than ever before, a feat that will repeat Subaru’s accomplishments from 2009 onward. Everything fell apart for the U.S. auto industry that year, but Subaru expanded its sales.

Also well-known is the Japanese automaker’s U.S. reliance. While Subaru reported 965,892 all-wheel-drive global vehicle sales between April 2015 and April 2016, 60 percent of that volume originated in the United States.

The traditional Subaru message of all-wheel drive and safety simply doesn’t resonate nearly so strong across the pond. The whole of Europe eats up fewer than 50,000 Subarus per year — less than Subaru manages in the U.S. each month.

The British buff books’ historical hankering after Prodrive-tuned WRX STIs surely doesn’t correlate to UK sales success: Subaru sold a piddling 1,210 vehicles in the UK in the first five months of 2017 — a 19-percent drop — while earning just 0.1 percent of the overall market.

It’s sort of like Major League Baseball’s World Series. The title may be global, but it’s all decided in the United States of America.

Subaru’s U.S. reliance should, theoretically, speak to the global possibilities. And perhaps, long-term, those are real possibilities. But in the near-term, Subaru will look for expansion just south of the company’s existing heartland: America’s sun belt.

Alabama vs. Clemson. Grits and greens. Hurricanes and hospitality. And all-wheel drive?

[Image: Subaru]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

Timothy Cain
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10 of 13 comments
  • Incautious Incautious on Jun 13, 2017

    Having owned both brands, I'll take the Audi every time.

    • See 4 previous
    • Jeano Jeano on Jun 14, 2017

      Having owned both brands (S4 and STI) ,I'll take the Subaru every time.

  • Ect Ect on Jun 13, 2017

    Subaru cites sales of vehicles described as "all-wheel-drive", while ignoring sales of vehicles labelled "four-wheel-drive". There may be a technical difference (I'm not an engineer), but I suspect the average consumer conflates the two. "It’s sort of like Major League Baseball’s World Series. The title may be global, but it’s all decided in the United States of America" A common misconception. The title is not global at all - the series is named for its original sponsor, the New York World newspaper. The newspaper is long dead, the baseball championship it named lives on.

  • James Hendricks The depreciation on the Turbo S is going to be epic!
  • VoGhost Key phrase: "The EV market has grown." Yup, EV sales are up yet again, contrary to what nearly every article on the topic has been claiming. It's almost as if the press gets 30% of ad revenues from oil companies and legacy ICE OEMs.
  • Leonard Ostrander Daniel J, you are making the assertion. It's up to you to produce the evidence.
  • VoGhost I remember all those years when the brilliant TTAC commenters told me over and over how easy it was for legacy automakers to switch to making EVs, and that Tesla was due to be crushed by them in just a few months.
  • D "smaller vehicles" - sorry, that's way too much common sense! Americans won't go along because clever marketing convinced us our egos need big@ss trucks, which give auto manufacturers the profit margin they want, and everybody feels vulnerable now unless they too have a huge vehicle. Lower speed limits could help, but no politician wants to push that losing policy. We'll just go on building more lanes and driving faster and faster behind our vehicle's tinted privacy glass. Visions of Slim Pickens riding a big black jacked up truck out of a B-52.