Subaru shortage? Company says it has plenty

A spokesman says comments the CEO made to The Wall Street Journal are a 'bit misleading.'

By Jonathan Berr May 31, 2013 12:00PM
Subaru Foresters are lined up at Twin City Subaru in Berlin, Vt. on Feb. 26, 2013 (© Toby Talbot/AP Photo)Japanese automaker Subaru is downplaying comments made by the CEO of its parent company to The Wall Street Journal that U.S. dealers may face shortages because of the company's surging sales.

Spokesman Michael McHale told MSN Money that the story, which quoted Fujistu Heavy Industries CEO Yasuyuki Yoshinaga as saying that strong demand could "lead to dealer shortages if trends continue," was a "bit misleading."

In an email, McHale added: "We are selling better than ever but we have more cars now than for a long time too. Our real shortage was after the (2011) tsunami." When asked whether Subaru, whose U.S. operations are based in Cherry Hill, N.J., near Philadelphia, was concerned about shortages, he replied, "To be honest, no. We have more cars in pipeline than we have had for a while."

Subaru, whose models include the Forester (pictured), Outback, Legacy and Tribeca, has seen its sales in the U.S. surge in recent months, jumping by 25% year over year in April alone. That's better than the 18% gain at Ford (F) and the 11% at Chrysler and General Motors (GM).

Subaru's U.S. inventories are increasing, rising recently to a 40-day supply from 18 days, but that's below the 60-day industry average, and further production increases will be difficult, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The attention Subaru is paying to the needs of U.S. consumers is paying off. It is designing wider and roomier cars and bolstering its dealer network in the South, where it has been weak, the paper noted.

In his interview with the paper, Yoshinaga said Subaru will exceed its U.S. sales target of 380,000 vehicles for the business year ending in March 16. Sales were boosted by strong interest in the redesigned Forester, which said in a review made "one of our favorite crossovers even more appealing." Subaru also maintained its existing prices on most versions of its Legacy and Outback models.

Not surprisingly, shares of Fujitsu Heavy have outperformed its larger rivals such as Honda (HMC) and Toyota (TM) in the Tokyo stock market.

Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.

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May 31, 2013 3:41PM
Forester is spelled wrong, and the company name is wrong.  It is Fuji Heavy Industries, not Fujistu.
May 31, 2013 10:24PM
I wish they would fix the head rest. It is angled so sharply that it pushes my head forward quite painfully. There is no way to adjust this angle.  My dealer said many people have complained to him about the same thing. Maybe we Americans have very round heads in back?  I love my Outback otherwise but I won't buy another until they fix this small but important problem.
Jun 3, 2013 10:37AM
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