In a surprise press release, after saying they would report quarterly and not monthly sales, Subaru of America (SOA) released its July figures. The 2020 Subaru Forester remains the rising star for the Camden, N.J. automaker and shines bright as the only SUV in the stable of all-wheel-drive models with positive sales last month. The 2020 Outback continues its steady drop with another disappointing month.
The Forester compact SUV’s success didn’t just start last month. Forester has been on a winning streak for the last six months, just about the time Outback started its slide. Last month SOA moved 15,313 Forester SUVs off it lots, up 4.0 percent over the previous July 2019. SOA sold 12,158 Outback wagons last month compared with 18,428 in July 2019. The next most popular Subaru is the Crosstrek which was also down in July.
What happed to the popular Outback?
It’s partly because of a low supply of Outback models because the Subaru Indiana Automotive (SIA) plant in Lafayette, Indiana that makes the wagon was shut down for eight weeks. But so was the plant in Gunma, Japan that makes the Forester compact SUV. And the plant in Japan suspended nighttime production and was only running one shift until recently.
In a Torque News exclusive interview, SIA told us the plant in the U.S. was back to full production since the restart on May 18. We checked the largest Subaru dealer in the west and they have 12 Forester models in inventory, compared with 39 Outback models sitting on its lot. But a Subaru source told Torque News, inventory was a factor last month for the Outback as they nearly ran out of the wagons at one point at its store.
Last year, Outback outsold the Forester and has been the brand’s leading all-wheel-drive vehicle in sales since 2016. But the Outback has been dropping in sales since March 2020, and it’s now five months in a row the wagon has slipped behind. In contrast, Forester has been up 0.2 percent through July 2020 (101,173 units sold) and Outback has dropped 33.6 percent (74,467 units sold) during the first seven months of the year.
Outback’s 33.6 percent drop is the biggest slide of any of the top Subaru models this year. The Ascent 3-Row family hauler is down 21.0 percent, and Crosstrek -24.7 percent.
The 2020 Subaru Forester is not slowing down and is the only model that is up year-to-date in the automaker's all-wheel-drive lineup. Has the all-new 2020 Subaru Outback lost its luster? Now that production is running at full capacity and inventory is increasing, the last five months of the year will reveal more.
Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press and the founder of Subaru Report where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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Photo credit: Competition Subaru