Subaru recently reported record sales, earnings, and profits, but the Japanese automaker is nonetheless looking firmly ahead. Global sales last year improved 14 percent to 825,000 units, but the goal is to reach 1.1 million vehicles sold by 2020.
According to Automotive News, the 1.1 million-unit sales goal will hinge largely on a projected 25 percent sales boom in North America. Sales in North America are estimated to surge from 478,000 this past year to 600,000. Subaru’s growth strategy, titled Prominence 2020, will focus on expanding its model range to add both a seven-seat SUV and a plug-in hybrid, increasing production capacity, introducing a new vehicle platform, and overhauling powertrain technologies for better efficiency.
Get Them While They’re HotIn order to continue its industry-leading rate of expansion, Subaru has already confirmed that it will not renew its contract to build the Toyota Camry at its Indiana plant. Once the deal expires at the end of 2016, Subaru will be able to utilize the 100,000-vehicle void left by Toyota. There is also a plan to add a third shift of workers and expand an assembly line, increasing capacity from the current 310,000 to 400,000 by the time Impreza production moves to Indiana by 2016.
Big Changes AheadThe new 2016 Subaru Impreza will ride on a new modularized platform, Automotive News reports, which will be dubbed the Subaru Global Platform. Supposedly engineered with safety, maneuverability, and spaciousness in mind, the platform will underpin every model after 2016, from the Impreza to the Outback, presumably including the XV Crosstrek, Forester, and Legacy.
While it’s unclear if it would be built on the new platform, a new seven-seat SUV to replace the canceled Tribeca is also on the horizon. It would be marketed predominantly toward North America, with a premiere sometime between 2016 and 2020.
The next step for 2016 is to switch all gas engines to direct-injection, making it standard for the next-generation boxer engine coming up. By 2020, Subaru aims to upgrade the engines with cylinder deactivation and leaner combustion cycles to fall in line with more rigid emissions regulations.
Automotive News also reports that Yasuyuki Yoshinaga, president of Subaru parent company Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI), hopes to heighten levels of thermal efficiency in Subaru combustion engines. Better heat retention results in less energy lost through heat, and more usable power for the vehicle. Toyota, which owns 17 percent of FHI, already revealed two new engines with thermal efficiency improved to an impressive 38 and 37 percent for its 1.3-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder hybrid and 1.0-liter gas engine. Subaru hopes to top the Toyota figures with an ambitious 40 percent thermal efficiency. Subaru will also draw from Toyota hybrid technology with the development of a plug-in hybrid for North America.