The all-new 2017 Subaru XV is expected to deliver around 1000 sales each month for the brand in Australia, positioning it near the front of the race in the small-SUV segment.
By comparison, and apart from a couple of standout months, the outgoing Subaru XV‘s monthly numbers in 2016 were closer to the 500-700 mark. But, while the company is confident this new-generation model will outdo those numbers, it admits it would struggle to do much better than 1000 in a month – even if demand were there.
Speaking with CarAdvice at the Australian launch of the 2017 XV, new Subaru Australia managing director Colin Christie – formerly the company’s marketing and sales director – concedes production capacity can be a constraint on local potential, but the company can occasionally push for more.
“If you take last year, we managed to finish at 47,000 cars. Earlier in the year, it looked like we were going to miss that number by a couple of thousand, in terms of production. So, depending on how our markets are going, and our performance, we’ve been able to secure extra production,” he said.
“And even this year, same thing; we were probably a thousand or two thousand cars short of where we wanted production, and we’ve been able to get that. But it is still tight and you’re always challenged with what sorts of cars you can get.”
If it can achieve around 1000 sales per month, the XV would still sit behind top sellers like the Mitsubishi ASX (1742 in May, 2017) and Mazda CX-3 (1542), although it would be neck-and-neck with the Honda HR-V (1029 in May) and Nissan Qashqai (1028).
With those production limitations in mind, combined with specification and pricing differences, Christie is not confident the new XV would be able to catch the top two. But, as the Impreza has shown – more than doubling last year’s year-to-date sales at 5161 to 2271 – growth is definitely in reach.
“I think even if we could, we’re not going to have enough cars to do it. But, from our point of view, that 1000-car mark is probably where the car sits. The entry price is a terrific price point for what you get, but there are obviously… CX-3, et cetera, have cheaper entry points than ours. So I think, given the market, and the price positioning, I think that’s a pretty reasonable position for us.”
Although available in four trim grades, the new XV is offered with just one engine and transmission combination: A 2.0-litre four-cylinder naturally-aspirated petrol engine, matched to a CVT automatic. And, unlike most rivals, it is available in all-wheel-drive only, which likewise impacts on entry pricing.
Elsewhere, the XV has been offered as a hybrid (including one with STI goodies), and while Subaru Australia has explored that option in the past, it is not expecting to offer the new version – when it appears – to the local market.
“At this point there’s nothing definite on the cards yet. I know Subaru in Japan are working hard on hybrid technology, as well as electric, so we’d love to see some sort of hybrid model at some point in time. But at this point, there’s nothing set in stone.”
Regardless of whatever volume aspirations he might harbour, Christie said the company’s focus has been on matching production to demand and balancing investment in future models.
“I think it’s a better situation than having too much, obviously. I think having the right level of stock, and from a factory point of view, them being able to sell as many cars as they can build means being able to invest more money into research and development, and build better cars as time progresses,” he said.
“It’d be nice if there were a bit more stock, but obviously we’d never want to go too far the other way.”