Subaru's U.S. Winning Streak Draws to a Close

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
subarus u s winning streak draws to a close

One aspect of Subaru’s incredible growth spurt in the U.S. market was its ability to post consecutive monthly year-over-year sales increases with boring regularity. It seemed like nothing, barring the outbreak of a second civil war, could upset the brand’s uncanny knack for ending the month with more vehicles sold than in the same month a year prior.

Last month was the 93rd such month, and it also happened to be the brand’s best sales month in the country to date. Over 70,000 Subarus left the lot in August; a striking number, considering the brand sold just 187,699 vehicles in all of 2008. Of course, back then the brand’s market share was less than one-and-a-half percent. Last year, Subaru’s slice of the U.S. market stood at just a tick below the 4 percent mark, with this year poised to rise well above it.

While new achievements and milestones still await Subaru in the U.S., September will not go down in history as the 94th consecutive month of year-over-year sales gains.

The streak is broken.

On Tuesday, Subaru was forced to issue the grim news. In reporting the brand’s 9.4-percent sales decrease, Subaru claimed the volume loss came down to due to “low days supply and three fewer selling days compared to September 2018.” Labor Day weekend, always a popular time to buy a new car, also intruded into August this year.

“Due to the rapid sell-down of the last generation Legacy and Outback models, our yearly, month-over-month sales streak of 93 consecutive months came to an end in September,” said Subaru of America president and CEO Thomas J. Doll in a statement. “We look forward to robust sales in October and are on target to achieve our 700,000-vehicle sales goal for 2019, marking 12 consecutive years of sales increases.”

The automaker’s lineup remains fresh in the U.S., with a redesigned Outback and Legacy appearing for 2020, hot on the heels of the revamped Forester and all-new Ascent that bowed for 2019. The Impreza and its Crosstrek platform mate donned new clothes in 2018. Tallying up every model, the brand’s volume is still up 4.4 percent through the end of September.

Still, it was a bad month for the rising brand. Every model posted a year-over-year decline for the September, with only the Forester, Ascent (which went on sale in June of last year), and the venerable Outback seeing a YTD sales climb. Not since June 2016 has Subaru seen a lower sales volume in a warm-weather month.

Is Subaru groveling over the broken streak? Not officially, and perhaps not even behind the scenes.

“With the all-new 2020 Outback and Legacy starting to arrive at retailers and a strong book of presold orders waiting to be delivered, we look forward to strong sales in October and the remainder of the year,” said Jeff Walters, the brand’s senior VP of sales.

If the year-over-year streak starts anew this month, the brand can expect a new annual volume record come New Year’s Eve. Subaru is already 51,659 units ahead of where it stood on October 1st of last year, with the brand requiring less than 20,000 additional sales to break 2018’s record.

[Image: Subaru, © 2018 Matthew Guy/TTAC]

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  • HotPotato HotPotato on Oct 02, 2019

    Subaru today is Volvo in the 80s and 90s. Durable but not reliable, pricey but not expensive, relentlessly practical, a quiet signifier of smart money. Beloved by outdoorsy computer professionals, immigrant doctors, and equine reproductive specialists.

  • CKNSLS Sierra SLT CKNSLS Sierra SLT on Oct 02, 2019

    One thing I have learned after being involved on a few "Car Forums"- CVT transmission hate is rabid-despite NO evidence to support (CURRENTLY) they are a bad choice. The same people who CVT's are those who are enamored with 5-speed manuals-of which there is practically NO MARKET DEMAND for. Curious-isn't it?

    • See 1 previous
    • Dave M. Dave M. on Oct 03, 2019

      @MeJ Exactly. When I first got my '13 I expected to hate it as well. After 10 minutes of adjusting to the no-shift feeling, I got over it. Not sure what the challenge is for others. My only other automatic transmission car is my Trooper. THAT GM 4-speed transmission needs a pricey rebuild every 80k miles or so. So far transmission #3 is holding it's own at 235k miles....I'm just waiting for the shoe to drop....

  • Lou_BC ERay? A southern model will be the BillyRay.
  • Lou_BC I've never used a car buying plan service. My Costco membership did get me 1,000 cash back on my last truck.
  • Jeff S I can understand 8 cars is a bit much unless you are a serious collector. I always loved the Challenger when it first came out and now. I don't need a car like this but I am glad it exists at least for 1 more year. If I had a choice between a Mustang, a Camaro, and a Challenger I would opt for a Challenger but probably with a V-6 since it has more than enough power for most and I don't need to be burning rubber. Challenger has the classic muscle car looks, more cabin room, and a decent size trunk which makes it very livable for day to day driving and for traveling. The base models of the Dodge Challenger has a 3.6-liter V6 engine that gives you 305 horsepower with 268 lb-ft torque. The car attains 60 mph from a standstill within just 6 seconds, which is quite fast. Even with their base engines, the Challenger and Camaro are lightning-fast. The Camaro reaches 165 mph, while the Challenger can go up to 11 mph faster!
  • Inside Looking Out I would avoid American cities if I can. European cities are created for humans and Americans for cars.
  • Inside Looking Out I used True car once in 2014 and got a great deal. The difference is that you do nothing but dealers call you. No haggling but you can get the same deal browsing inventories on dealers websites. It just matter of convenience, Rich people delegate job to someone else because time costs more.