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Subaru's Record 2004 Year

January 13, 2005

Subaru's Record 2004 Year

Subaru sold 2066 new cars in 2004, the best year it has had in New Zealand since 1991.

Sales were up 26.8 percent on 2003's 1629, while the total new car market only grew 10 percent.

"It's been a tremendous year with all models in the new Legacy and Outback range coming on stream," said Wallis Dumper, the General Manager of Subaru of New Zealand.

"Our continuing success is a vindication of the decision in 1996 to only market All Wheel Drive cars to premium position the brand”.

Subaru's sales have steadily grown in recent years, with 2004 providing the most increase over previous years. "The company set itself a tough task when the front wheel drive cars were deleted from the range," said Mr. Dumper. "We've had to regain our sales volume with only about half the models we used to have."

Mr. Dumper said the New Zealand market remained very competitive in 2004. "Our sales growth at double the whole market is a reflection on the quality of our cars and the fact they offer new car buyers the All Wheel Drive and boxer engine difference."

While a couple of shipments of Impreza GX models sold for around $25,000, the majority of new Subarus sold for more than $40,000 each.

"Those Imprezas provided a premium new car with which we successfully competed against the used imports," said Mr. Dumper. “But our sales were well up on 2003 even without the strategic limited production cars”.

"I believe our range of lifestyle and performance vehicles now has a more prestigious image," he said.

"We have successfully got away from the volume selling end of the market, where it's a numbers game more than what is on the bottom line. Most importantly customers retained value is optimal”.

When Subaru of New Zealand last sold more than 2000 vehicles in 1991, half its over 2300 sales were front wheel drive cars and wagons and the SUV market it created with the Outback in 1995 and extended with the Forester did not even exist.

With more than 30 dealers in 1991 it was competing for fleet and rental sales against all the major manufacturers in the market. "Now we have just 14 committed owner/operated retail outlets," said Mr. Dumper. "And we are finding our main rivals for sales are the more exclusive European brands."

With fewer retail outlets and fewer models than what it had in the mid 1990s when it also had two-wheel drive models Subaru is now achieving more, said Mr. Dumper.

Subaru changed its model range exclusively to All Wheel Drive in 1996, creating its own niche in the market, which it has exploited to the full. Even in 2005 Subaru is the only manufacturer operating in New Zealand that has a 100 percent All Wheel Drive range of cars, wagons and SUVs.

The company also enjoyed record parts sales in 2004, partially thanks to the large car park of second hand imported Subarus now on New Zealand's roads, requiring the peace of mind of “genuine” service.

Mr. Dumper believes the brand can achieve similar success in 2005. "Demand for the Legacy and Outback continues to be strong with the Legacy 3.0R boosting sales. People are seeing the quality in the range and comparing the ‘value’ equation more than favorably with European executive cars."

There will be changes to the Forester and Impreza model line-ups in 2005. And while it is by no means certain, Subaru hopes to be able to offer further limited numbers of Impreza GX models on occasion, and new model developments such as the Tribeca in the USA all augur well for Subaru’s NZ future.

ENDS

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