I don't know if you've noticed an interesting phenomenon. With changing consumer landscape, some models that were once commonplace on roads are disappearing without a trace in blink of an eye. Subaru seems to be one of them. This legendary Japanese brand used to have a high status in domestic arena. The horizontal opposition and permanent four-wheel drive of entire series also give Subaru a certain uniqueness. It is also an educator brand for many domestic car enthusiasts. will be complete without typing "STI" on keyboard.
Today, Subaru is still a Subaru in hearts of car enthusiasts, and people who love it still pay attention, but their products on road have become less visible to naked eye. Why is a good car slowly declining in eyes of car fans, turning from a popular import brand into a personalized choice? We will analyze why Subaru has fewer and fewer cars in terms of products and markets.
The first phase of product and market: era of purest product, beginning of Subaru Performance brand
Subaru first officially entered domestic market around 2000, but this was not earliest period for entering domestic market. Already in 1990s, many Subaru models entered domestic market through special channels. With development of domestic auto industry market, Subaru also officially entered domestic market. Officially entered domestic market. Subaru's products and markets in China can be divided into three stages. The first stage is purest period. The first few models introduced are very representative, including Imperza WRX with a high "key value" in mouths of car fans and more. Forester and Legacy.
When Impreza with chassis code GD first appeared before Chinese, due to quality of oil, instead of most representative STI, frameless doors and a unique horizontally opposed turbocharger. cars. In an era when Bora 1.8T was only 150 hp. could be called a driver's car, original Impreza WRX with 225 hp. and a mechanical all-wheel drive system was already a “supercar” in eyes of townsfolk. .
Mechanics are also Subaru's forte. At time, only naturally aspirated models powered by two 2.0L and 2.5L four-cylinder engines, as well as unique 3.0L H6 model, came into country. Although price of 3.0L model is as high as 387,800 yuan, if you read model catalog at that time, you will definitely feel that it is worth money.
Forester even broke SUV mold of day, with a low center of gravity + turbo as a selling point, focusing on sport and handling, it was pretty much only choice for a turbocharged sport utility vehicle at time. Thanks to brand's rich history, excellent on-field performance and unique product characteristics, this set of combinations put Subaru in first place in an era when expensive imported cars, especially sports models, were relatively scarce. . It is not difficult to find that Subaru at that time not only told stories, but also touched consumers more because of characteristics of its product, and number of cars with stars on roads gradually increased.
Second product and market phase: formal introduction of STI models, addition of turbo to join second glory spring
However, after models of this period, Subaru's models gradually compromised, but also due to success of first stage, in addition to maintaining original set of products, it also expanded its product line. This is Subaru's second-stage product for domestic market. New cars are always bigger and more functional, omitting gaudy details like frameless doors to keep costs down. However, with changes in domestic automotive environment, Subaru also began producing turbocharged models during this period. Among several models sold at time, all top models were equipped with most powerful turbocharged engines of time. Japanese version.
This is first time a performance car has been presented by STI. Although price has reached about 500,000 yuan, wealthy car enthusiasts can pay for it to be able to drive a real STI model. This market strategy, which not only pleases traditional users but also satisfies fanatical performance enthusiasts, allows Subaru to continue its market position in first phase. The range of models during this period is richest, whether it is a high-volume self-priming model (Outback 3.6L) or an entry-level subcompact model, it can be presented, including sedans, SUVs, performance cars, and crossovers. The price coverage is also very wide, which allows Subaru reach peak sales.
The import status is still attractive to consumers, despite fact that product has a compromise in market, it has many advantages over models in same price category. And as consumer awareness of cars improves and market tends to get younger, brand's unique personality and great mechanical performance can still help Subaru succeed.
However, while unique mechanical design made Subaru successful, it also spelled disaster for Japanese Subaru models. In addition, horizontally opposed engines require a higher level of maintenance, and price of spare parts is relatively high, which is also a big blow to used car's value retention ratio, and also affects confidence of new car owners in buying cars. .
Product and market phase three: phase out of turbo power and gradual marginalization of models
With next update of Subaru models, time came around 2013. At this time, there were big changes in both foreign and domestic markets. Due to popularity of small turbochargers, Subaru did not launch corresponding models, on contrary, to gradually reduce introduction of turbocharged models. There are also objective environmental factors: due to tightening of emission standards, models equipped with DIT turbocharged engines are also leaving market one after another, now only naturally aspirated models remain, and STI models are not represented.
At this stage, relying on small cars such as BRZ, it can still attract attention of many car enthusiasts, but investment in production models is becoming less and less. Taking Forester as an example, impact of taxes and fees associated with large displacement cannot be ignored for imported vehicles. Combined with acceleration of domestic emissions standards, Forester has changed from a diversified powertrain at start to just one 2.0-liter engine backing stage. . Even with its unique all-wheel drive system and latest Eyesight active safety system, it can't hide its power shortcomings, especially in face of more competitively priced similar-level co-branded models. Almost without exception, its models adopt this strategy, which has almost exhausted brand's accumulated sports reputation. If not an all-wheel drive system, then why choose Subaru?
It may not be filled with true love for Subaru, and I find it hard to convince myself to buy a product with lower performance than models of same level at a higher price. It also ties in with Subaru's strategy of focusing on North American and local markets. It's relatively less strict on emissions and won't be intimidated by large displacement and fuel consumption. It also has tough demand for all-wheel drive. systems, and his life in North America is pretty wet. The general trend towards electrification is gradually suffocating brand's living space, especially in domestic market, where new energy and hybrid vehicles are gradually becoming mainstream. This is precisely current lack of Subaru. Of course, it is impossible to talk about sales volume without corresponding goods, when total sales volume of 4S store in first tier city is only around 30 units, it is not surprising that it gradually disappears on road.
After examining Subaru's three phases of development, it's easy to see why there are fewer and fewer cars on road. As a personalized brand, import brand is destined not to have mass sales, but relying on uniqueness of brand, Subaru has been successful in China and has a good reputation. With decline in new car sales in recent years, number of new cars on road is naturally not as good as it used to be, and naturally we cannot see same prosperity. In addition, high maintenance costs and maintenance complexity have also accelerated pace of old Subaru ending up in junkyard. With the exception of particularly classic models, high investments do not necessarily have a corresponding return, which is why many car owners are abandoning these models. .
Without addition of new car owners, older cars also need careful maintenance, so naturally they become less and less common on roads. But there is no need to be too pessimistic about its prospects, on one hand there are also many interested people who remain true to their passions and let this once classic continue to run on roads. On other hand, Subaru's attitude has also changed: it is reported that in 2024 it will introduce a LEVORG wagon. a model that is in great demand among motorists. In addition, Subaru will also expand its electrification product line. If it applies for high-performance STe trademark overseas, it will launch more electrification products. However, it is too early to say whether he will be able to return to its former glory.