AM Online

Subaru UK has 10,000 sales target

Paul Tunnicliffe, new managing director of Subaru UK, wants to take the brand from estimated sales of 4,000 units this year into double figures, but admits it will take up to three years.

Tunnicliffe is aiming to hit 5,500 sales in 2010 and wants to grow volumes through retail sales.

Subaru should be looking at 10,000 sales a year and that’s where Tunnicliffe wants the brand to be.

He told AM: “It’s been pretty bloody for the first six months of this year. We want to achieve volume sustainably and sensibly.

“We’re not going to do it through fleet deals, but through retail sales off the back of marketing and people coming through the showroom doors.”

A big part of Subaru’s plan to drive retail sales is returning to television advertising to raise the awareness of its products. The adverts started on October 1 and carry the new marketing message “unlike other cars”.

Tunnicliffe said there was still a slight disconnect with some dealers that hadn’t left behind the performance focus the brand used to have.

Tunnicliffe said: “We need dealers to realise we aren’t a brand that can compete on things like scrappage with the Koreans and we’re about all-wheel drive, Boxer engines, estates and SUVs. This is where the future is for the company.”

The directors in Japan support Tunnicliffe’s strategy. He said: “The Japanese have been great and they’ve given us every last drop of support. ”

Subaru sold 863 cars in September in comparison to 659 units in the plate-change month last year and Tunnicliffe insists none were forced registrations.

IM Group's Chinese ambition

Subaru, Isuzu and Daihatsu’s UK importer IM Group is still in discussions with Great Wall about bringing the Chinese manufacturer’s cars to the UK.

Tunnicliffe said: “No deal has been made, but IM Group would be a natural fit for them.”

Tunnicliffe believes Great Wall is the closest to having models ready to enter the European market.

"While Tunnicliffe believes Great Wall could be looking for dealers as soon as 2011, analysts predict it will be at least five years before Chinese manufacturers enter the market.

The recession has delayed the UK arrival of Chinese manufacturers, but they have used the time to try to improve safety and build quality, which are the two key factors that needed to be addressed.

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