Subaru Manages to Buck An Industry-wide Trend in September

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

U.S. auto sales took a roughly 7 percent year-over-year dive in September, pulling the market’s year-to-date sales total further in the red. The industry-wide sales gain seen in the first half of the year is gone.

At Subaru, however, good timing and the continued popularity of a certain model kept the automaker from joining the ranks of its rivals (a group that does not include a beaming Fiat Chrysler). The automaker somehow managed to pull off a win in a dismal month, and it’s still up on a year-to-date basis, despite having so many minuses on its sales ledger.

In September, Subaru’s U.S. sales rose 3.5 percent, year over year, with volume over the first nine months of 2018 up 5.1 percent. However, only one vehicle recorded positive year-over-year growth last month, and only one vehicle is up on a year-to-date basis.

The key to having a record September in a generally bad September is to introduce a much-needed model during the summer. That rig is the three-row, midsize Ascent crossover — a model that found 5,859 buyers last month. Additional volume from this model is what pushed Subaru’s numbers over the top in September. Other than this, the only vehicle not showing a monthly decline is the Forester, which rose 1.4 percent, year over year.

It’s worth noting that last September contained an additional sales day. Had the two months been on even terms, the ever-popular Crosstrek would surely have posted a positive sales number (it was down less than one percent for the month). As the brand’s third best-selling vehicle, the Crosstrek is the only model enjoying a year-to-date increase. It’s not a small one, either. The lifted and cladded Impreza hatch is up 45.1 percent over 2017’s tally, with its YTD volume — 111,415 units — quickly catching up to the second-place Forester and first-place Outback.

The Crosstrek remains an extremely strong vehicle and serves as an example of what automakers can reap if they’re willing to tinker around with an existing model (and come up with a new name). However, it’s the Ascent that earns credit for coming to the brand’s rescue last month.

[Image: Subaru]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Buickman Buickman on Oct 06, 2018

    although Subaru fulfills their brand image... Wouldn't You Really Rather Have a Buick? c'mon, really!

    • See 1 previous
    • Slavuta Slavuta on Oct 08, 2018

      buick - ok. Opel - not so much. first, show me one Opel that didn't look totally fallen apart after 5 years

  • Riggodeezil Riggodeezil on Oct 07, 2018

    A young relative just bought an orange Crosstrek like the one pictured. She actually went out of her way to get that specific color. Natch, I sort of spoke against it mainly because of the DI engine and the CVT but Love. Dogs, orange, and Crapple CarPlay easily trumped all that nonsense. It’s an ok car for a young active person. A hatchback in elevator shoes. But I don’t think it’s really any more capable or has any more utility for her than the Corolla it replaced. Guess we’ll see how she likes the it over the long haul. I used to think Subaru’s were kind f of neat in a quirky way but they seem to have dialed that back quite a bit from the old days. They almost seem like the former hippy who went back to school and got his MBA and is now a stockbroker. Nothing wrong with that but sometimes you miss having the hippy around to remind you that there’s more to life than squeezing every nickel So hard that the buffalo farts.

    • Lie2me Lie2me on Oct 07, 2018

      Good post. I think Subarus are what people want who don't really like cars. They're practical in most applications and many people like their AWD capabilities, but most of all I think people buy Subarus because their friend/relative/coworker or anybody's judgement they trust has one and likes it

  • 3-On-The-Tree I don’t think Toyotas going down.
  • ToolGuy Random thoughts (bulleted list because it should work on this page):• Carlos Tavares is a very smart individual.• I get the sense that the western hemisphere portion of Stellantis was even more messed up than he originally believed (I have no data), which is why the plan (old plan, original plan) has taken longer than expected (longer than I expected).• All the OEMs who have taken a serious look at what is happening with EVs in China have had to take a step back and reassess (oversimplification: they were thinking mostly business-as-usual with some tweaks here and there, and now realize they have bigger issues, much bigger, really big).• You (dear TTAC reader) aren't ready to hear this yet, but the EV thing is a tsunami (the thing has already done the thing, just hasn't reached you yet). I hesitate to even tell you, but it is the truth.
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