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

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
with mostly american support subaru claims global all wheel drive sales supremacy

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.

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  • 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.

  • KOKing That base hybrid system must be something other than the normal Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive, since that uses the two electric motors as the ('CVT') transmission without a separate transmission of any kind.
  • Analoggrotto Too much of the exterior is shared with the Grand Highlander. Toyota/Lexus is clearly over extended here as this was rushed in direct response to the Kia Telluride which has decimated RX sales. Lexus was not such a major offender of just changing the front and rear end caps on a lesser Toyota model (this worked for LX / Land Cruiser as the latter is already expensive) but for such a mass market vehicle, buyers will notice and may just go to Toyota (or Kia) for their big SUV.
  • Crtfour I'm a BOF SUV fan. In my opinion it's certainly not a looker (but what is these days). But it does look the part and should be great off road. Plus kudos to Toyota for retaining actual shift levers. So I give it a thumbs up.
  • Theflyersfan UX Hybrid, NX, NX Hybrid, NX Plug-In Hybrid EV, RZ, RX, RX Hybrid, RX 500h, GX, LX, and now the TX. (source: the bloated section of the Lexus SUV site) It's looking like the Taco Bell menu over there - the same dozen ingredients mixed around to make a lineup. I'm waiting for something like the WX to compete with the Chevy Trax and maybe the LXXXL to compete with the Hummer EV and maybe a four row crossover in 2025 and a lower-cased line like the rx or nx to compete with the German CUV-"coupes" and their slashed tops and cargo areas. C'mon Lexus, there are more micro-niches to be filled! Gather your boardroom committees together and come up with another plan! And careless parent alert: shouldn't that kid be in a booster seat? I mean in my age, we sat in the way back of station wagons on the flat floor and bounced around with every curve, but these days you gotta deck your kid out in 50 pounds of pads and bubble wrap before they leave the driveway, so get that child seat in the way back right now!
  • 28-Cars-Later Nice minivan, just add the sliding doors and quit living in denial.