Subaru worried that RWD coupe could dilute brand

One topic of debate that began raging after Toyota and Subaru officially announced their collaboration on a lightweight, rear-wheel-drive coupe was how the Toyobaru would be marketed, particularly with both brands getting their own models. Apparently, Subaru execs share our concerns.
Subaru has branded itself as the purveyor of competent, multi-purpose vehicles that begin and end with one distinct feature: all-wheel-drive. By adding another vehicle into its lineup lacking that core trait, Subaru risks diluting its hard-earned image, not to mention going toe-to-toe with the Toyota monolith by selling a badge-engineered variant.

Automotive News spoke with Fuji Heavy Industries overseas sales chief, Mat Nagato, who said, "We may lose our longstanding territory, or we may lose the great niche brand image. The potential risk is there. We have to be very smart on marketing strategy." This issue has to be weighed against the short-term gain of a new, inexpensive model for enthusiasts and Subaru's continued growth, but the simple solution would be to nix the Subaru version altogether, allow Toyota to brand the new coupe as its own and rake in the cash provided by the partnership. Unfortunately, that's not going to happen, so the only thing Subaru can do now is make an attempt to differentiate its own version from Toyota's, while praying that consumers won't forget what "Makes a Subaru a Subaru."

[Source: Automotive News – Sub. Req.]

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