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Subaru boss ’embarrassed’ brand only managed 34 new car sales in August – but promises to turn it around

Time 7:28 am, October 3, 2020

Subaru UK boss John Hurtig is ‘embarrassed’ the manufacturer only managed to clock up 34 sales between his 69 dealers in August.

In an exclusive video interview on Friday, which you can watch above, the newly appointed boss admitted the brand had also lost dealers during a ‘challenging period’.

However, he promised his reign at the top will change this and the brand will soon be back to selling 3,500 cars a year.

So far 2020 has been disastrous for the Japanese brand with just 400 cars sold up to the end of August. The same period in 2019 saw it sell 1,518.

‘Definitely – the only way is up, there is nothing else to go for,’ Hurtig told us.

Hurtig, who spent time in the Swedish military before entering the automotive industry, said he’s got to work quickly, altering terms and conditions, changing campaigns, investing more in marketing and turning it round since he joined in August.

Previously he worked for Subaru in the Nordics for eight years.

He said: ‘We have a strong company, we have a strong owner with money, we have to invest that money because we have to get back and build this brand, and we have started that in September.’

In Issue 150 of Car Dealer Magazine – which you can read here – we predicted Subaru had a 50/50 chance of survival in the UK.

With Mitsubishi revealing it will stop developing models for Europe, effectively killing the brand off, our feature looked at which other manufacturers may face similar fates.

Hurtig was adamant we were wrong and that new models – including an electric Subaru – would bolster appeal here.

‘You were completely wrong,’ he said. 

‘I crossed the border on the 15th of August and it took me one day to come over this magazine.

‘If I look back the models are not perfect for Europe or ideal but on the other hand it is a unique product. 

‘We are here to stay and we are actually stronger.’

Hurtig explained that the brand is in the process of changing its dealer network and has had some ‘strong applications’.

He said investing in marketing is one of his priorities and the new products he has seen will help sales increase.

However, he said Subaru will be an ‘SUV manufacturer’ and not go back to the rally-inspired specials that so many people loved. 

He said: ‘If you look at our line-up there is no performance car there at all – it’s just SUV and crossover models.’

‘The future for Subaru is purely SUV and crossover,’ he stressed, adding that although there might be some kind of sports car in the future, the brand wouldn’t shift its focus on SUVs and crossovers.

‘That’s where our future is, to be honest,’ he said, highlighting Subaru’s unique drivetrain in its Boxer engine, which he said was renowned for its toughness and durability.

And in a direct message to the dealer network, he added: ‘What they see from me now is that I am so focused, we are so dedicated to turning this around in a very short time now, and we have attractive and good campaigns that we will run on a wide national base of marketing.

‘But we now have to make this happen together and we will do, and the tough times must be over. It can’t go any other way than up.

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‘We have already started to turn ourselves around. We’re starting to see some positive numbers across the UK and we’re selling more cars.’

You can watch the interview in full by clicking on the main image.

Access all our Car Dealer Live interviews by clicking here

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Car Dealer has been covering the motor trade since 2008 as both a print and digital publication. In 2020 the title went fully digital and now provides daily motoring updates on this website for the car industry. A digital magazine is published once a month.

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