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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.]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      We just traded our 04 A4 ultrasport for a legacy limited wagon. It is as comfy inside as the Audi, and its 10K less. If you want to call the legacy ugly, then what can you really say about the new Audi grille?

      I had two A4s and I just couldn't justify the high price any more for essentially the same interior and features.

      That said, the dealer networks are miles apart, Subaru needs to rethink its dealer strategy.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Am I the only one who I LIKES the "ugly factor"? Well, the B9 Tribeca is too much OK? I really dig my 2003 Impreza WRX with all it's weird angles and bulges. I only wish they would make a 2-door hatch. Obviously that will never happen, but one can dream...
      • 8 Years Ago
      From the rear it looks like a Ford S-Max...
      • 8 Years Ago
      EVERY car maker seems to think this is THE route to sales success:

      "...Why don't we just go up-market?"

      Like it's something you can wake up in the morning and decide to do. Like shopping for your next suit of clothes at JC Penney instead of Wal-Mart will INSURE that you SUDDENLY catapult into the CEO job.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Well they could start my actually making something visually attractive. They have a great AWD system and goo performance for the price, why not wrap it in a nice exterior?

      No one buys a Subaru becasue it's pretty they buy it becasue it suits there needs. Why not suit their needs and their desires.
      • 8 Years Ago
      If they could get more people to sit inside the tribeca, theyd get more sales. The interior design of it is exceptional! It does need a nose job though. I wonder what being nder the toyota umbrella will bring to subaru. Hopefully they manage to keep their distinct brand of automotive engineering (symmetrical AWD, Boxer engines, great driving dynamics), and manage to keep the wagons in their lineup.

      BTW, i drive a 2007 WRX TR.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Re #14: "That demented half-warped-meltdown wannabe alfa-romeo scnhozz just doesn't make a good grill, and then they put it on almost all of their vehicles. Uhg."

      AFAIK, they only put it on 2 of their models: the Impreza and Tribeca. Legacy, Outback, Forester, and the now dead Baja never got the new grill.

      I know it's a matter of taste. Personally, I kind of like it, at least on the Impreza. Though I don't care as much about how a car looks.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I agree with jj I think Subaru has a problem within the design department and this is a big reason why a $25,000 Forester does not compete well with the conventional Accord, for example. Subaru, in general, is trying to play the "different kind of car company" card and I think that it's not necessarily to their advantage. For AWD is fine, build your success around that, like you have. But your cars are weird Subaru. They are. I would say that painting the portrait of an automobile that looks like a passenger car and selling it as a competitor to an SUV is a dire strategy. And, in addition, it's not like Subaru is a luxury make, it's still solidly within the middle-class range both within appearance and within brand recognition, respectively. So then, given this, focus on what sells for middle-class buyers: reasonable prices (especially for a Subaru for goodness sake), excellent reliability, and less quirky design. throw in standard AWD on all cars and you've got yourself a plan, in my estimation. But as for the B9 Tribeca, that thing is an over-expensive (and perhaps less-reliable) Sienna competitor, and many people got that message is my view on that.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Whatever they do, I hope that they keep the engineering...and the driving dynamics.

      Those of us who know, continue to buy them because they drive great, are super-solid, kick 3series and A4 asses all day and are far more dependable.

      In fact, they are where Volvo were in the 70's. Really well built and good value. Come to think of it, BMW was there once as well.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I think the first order of business is to design cars that don't get described as "Visually Challenged" whenever they are discussed. The next is to continue the trend they started with the first WRX to hit our shores and the newer WRX TR. Affordable performance cars aimed at the "just out of college" set seems like a pretty good match for Subaru.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Is that something they teach in business school? When sales are lagging you raise your prices? That just seems counter-intuitive. If you can't sell your product at $5, why would it sell at $10? Seems, Subaru needs to REDUCE their prices as their $30k SUV just seems $10k too much.

      Maybe this guy and Chrysler's CEO are best friends?
      • 8 Years Ago
      Seems Mr.Ed is a horse's ass.
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