Back in June of last year, Ikuo Mori took the helm as Fuji Heavy Industries' CEO. His task: end Subaru's five-year long sales slump. Subaru's retail efforts have not lived up the automaker's expectations set in 2002, with a failed attempt at moving the brand up market and the slow sales of its visually challenged B9 Tribeca SUV (does the backend remind anyone else of a Morlock?) doing little to improve the brand's bottom line.

Little has been revealed about Mori's turnaround efforts, but in Subaru's annual report, he hinted that the automaker's focus on engineering over consumer appeal might be one of the first things to be nixed. A more focused effort on the company's core business – automobiles – will be at the forefront, with a reduction in some of FHI's outlying endeavors, including its work in the aerospace industry.

Whether or not the future of Subaru lays in better brand management, with a special focus on its devotees, remains to be seen. But outside of several niche automakers, Subaru has a number of dedicated buyers in the U.S. and if Subaru wants to expand its market share, they'll have to make an attempt to encapsulate that enthusiasm to attract more people into their showrooms.

[Source: Automotive News – Sub. Req.]