2020 Subaru Outback
Denis Flierl's picture

Update: Subaru Plant Reopens But You Don't Want One Of The First New Cars Off The Line

Subaru will begin building the 2020 Outback next week, but you may not want one of the first models that roll off the assembly line. See how new plant rules could affect quality.
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Subaru Indiana Automotive where they build the 2020 Subaru Outback plans to bring back some of its 6,000 employees Monday to prepare the plant to start full production on May 18. But you may not want one of the first Outback wagons or Ascent family hauler models that roll off the assembly line once the plant starts up again. According to a report from Wards Auto, new COVID-19 rules could threaten vehicle quality.

It’s not just the Subaru plant that will be affected. The report says “Quality is likely to suffer when the U.S. auto industry restarts and reconfigures assembly lines to conform with new rules for disinfecting and social distancing.” This comes from panelists at the Society of Automotive Analysts’ online State of Automotive Recalls Summit.

2020 Subaru Outback
2020 Subaru Outback rolls out in Lafayette, Indiana

One speaker on the panel, Dave Prager says “We’re going to see massive disruptions of operations, which will trickle into quality.” The report cites automotive plants like Subaru Indiana Automotive are built to maximize every bit of space. New social distancing rules will spread employees out and it will affect the assembly line and all other areas of the manufacturing process. Prager says. “We’re going to see many more escaped defects.”

The problem with the new cars rolling off the line is you won’t know when it was built unless you ask your salesperson to see the production date. No one knows how long it will take auto plant employees to adjust to new rules that will affect shift changes, and the balance between time spent working vs. the time employees spend cleaning. Wearing new PPEs (personal protective equipment) could also affect the employee's dexterity and ability to perform their jobs at peak efficiency.

Update: SIA spokesperson Craig Koven told Torque News, "SIA developed a ‘Getting Back in Gear’ campaign to help associates become familiar with new health and safety protocols in the plant, and activities related to resuming production. Associates will be participating in a quality training program that highlights the impact of defects on customers and retailers, as well as our plant."

2020 Subaru Outback
The new plant rules could affect vehicle quality

When you do return to the dealer to buy the new 2020 Subaru Outback, things will also be a lot different for customers. Most Subaru retailers are up and running, from service and parts to selling cars, but now the salesperson will be wearing a mask.

Dealers will also need to practice social distancing, do extra cleaning, wear masks, and gloves. There will be daily health checks for employees and that will be the “new normal” for Subaru and other new car dealers.

If you are ready to buy a new 2020 Subaru Outback or another all-wheel-drive model, you might want to get a model now that was made before the plant closed. New COVID-19 rules could affect the quality of vehicles until employees get used to the new normal.

You Might Also Like: Subaru Leases A Vacant Airport To Park 30,000 Unsold Cars Stacking Up At The Port

Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his reports are archived on our Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Subaru Report. Check back tomorrow for more Subaru news and updates at Torque News!

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Photo credit: Subaru Indiana Automotive, Timmons Subaru


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Comments

What a load of rubbish. Not sure the motivations behind such negative news. There was not one reason in this article that would truly effect quality on the production.
Wouldn't it be easy to detect suspect builds by checking the month/year on the plate by the front door? If you believe the premise, just don't buy anything that says "May 2020". Wait until 2021's or at least July builds.
What a load of crap. Pure conjecture.
Wow. Seems like an attack on Subaru even though this will be the case with every auto plant in the country. Kind of like in politics where the media headlines a huge negative story on one candidate and bashes them but adds a little tidbit saying that candidate is the same as all others. The damage is done before the disclaimer
I'm going to stop you right there where you say that you won't know when your car was built unless you ask a salesperson. That is false. You simply pop open the doors on either side of the vehicle and look at the lower portion of the b pillar. There, you will find a black sticker known as data label, and on the top right corner, you will find a build date in month/year format.
"When you do return to the dealer to buy the new 2020 Subaru Outback, things will also be a lot different for customers. Most Subaru retailers are up and running, from service and parts to selling cars, but now the salesperson will be wearing a mask. Dealers will also need to practice social distancing, do extra cleaning, wear masks, and gloves. There will be daily health checks for employees and that will be the “new normal” for Subaru and other new car dealers. " None of that happened at Wilde Subaru in waukesha wis on 5-4-20 when we were there, they were rude, disorganized and wore NO PPE, i have a had a cough lately, i hope my 88 year old father didnt pick up a corona virus there that day...time will tell i guess...just saying, if Subaru mandates their dealers act in a certain way, THEY NEED TO FOLLOW UP ON THAT!!!
I have worked assembly lines before. I doubt if this happens. This is why QA and QI departments are part of factory work. I have worked Final Inspection. Subaru is quality!!
It seems like you've never been to the Subaru plant in Lafayette Indiana or you're reporting would have included the special set up and training they have for each of their individual workers. They work in teams and are trained on every aspect of the assembly line and work different portions of the assembly line. Even if they are going to need to be spread out they are highly trained and held to high standards about knowing what the car should look like at each point. There are also several automated safety points in each spot to make sure the correct part is being used. I don't believe social distancing is going to lower the quality of a Subaru... And yes I've been to the Subaru plant personally. Subaru also has a higher percentage of final check points than most other manufacturers. This final checkpoint is done one at a time by multiple employees. You cited a generic report that does not specifically state Subaru, and well you slightly mention that I wish you would have also stated that you have no idea the practices Subaru follows when building cars.
What is your beef with Subaru? You state that this will effect not just Subaru, but this entire piece is an attack by you, and is your opinion. Garbage article.
I disagree. Prior to the virus, as Subaru production soared, so did defects. One billion was allocated to improve quality. Shutting down production for weeks can allow manufacturers time to eliminate problems and greatly improve processes. Have faith Subaru hasn’t been sitting idly by, but instead working with themselves and especially suppliers to make great new vehicles starting 18 May.
I am not sure this gentleman that is making all these claims has even been inside the production areas of Subaru. One huge item he has either not thought about or didnt care to mention, is that the production lines will be much slower now and that quality "checkstations" will be added. Rest assured that this plant will continue the success that it has always had.
This article was pure rhetoric with no facts ‘don’t get the first builds of the line, quality will be affected’ but does not explain HOW quality will be effected. Terrible reporting
This is absolute garbage. How can you make such erroneous claims and put them into an article. I thought torque news was a reputable source? Denis, you should be ashamed. Do you know what goes on on these assembly lines? I don't see one part in this article where it backs up this statement with actual facts. Why would quality suffer? If anything, it will be better. Production line workers will be more aware and alert. Have you seen the production lines? I have. In person. They each have their own station. I am certain they will implementing further precautions and procedures to ensure their employees don't get sick and do not delay production. This is not the 70's and it is not a Friday. Vacation is over. THEY ARE GOING TO PRODUCE. Put something more positive out than this sorry excuse for CLICK BAIT.
"The problem with the new cars rolling off the line is you won’t know when it was built unless you ask your salesperson to see the production date." Not true. The build date is on the build plaque on the driver's door frame. Granted it only shows month/year but in this case anything with 5/20 build date or later is post-Coronavirus. I bought mine last week and was one of the last probably prior to Corona, with a build date of 3/20.
This is absolute garbage. How can you make such erroneous claims and put them into an article. I thought torque news was a reputable source? Denis, you should be ashamed. Do you know what goes on on these assembly lines? I don't see one part in this article where it backs up this statement with actual facts. Why would quality suffer? If anything, it will be better. Production line workers will be more aware and alert. Have you seen the production lines? I have. In person. They each have their own station. I am certain they will implementing further precautions and procedures to ensure their employees don't get sick and do not delay production. This is not the 70's and it is not a Friday. Vacation is over. THEY ARE GOING TO PRODUCE. Put something more positive out than this sorry excuse for CLICK BAIT.
The build date is stamped on the plaque on the driver's door sill. It only shows month/year, but enough to know if it was built pre or post-Corona.
I am about to pick up a new Outback probably built after the plant reopened. This article scared me to death. Cars cost a lot of money and I am getting my first Subaru Outback because of the reputation for safety and reliability. I was happy to see the pushback in the other comments. Not sure if those people work there or are associated with Subaru. Doesn't matter. I could tell most were seriously offended by the article. I hope all goes well. I have high expectations for my new car.
All the dealerships were closed in Michigan due to Governors Covid-19, orders but one could puruse the available inventory online. Found the Outback Premium I wanted at two Detroit area dealership-- Silver with a gray interior, and NO moonroof. Then 4 days before the dealer Sales Dept were to re-open in Michigan that vehicle disappears from both dealers. websites.. That really ticked me off. All dealerships in Michigan were supposed to have closed sales departments, yet cars in inventory we sold !!! Now I WILL wait a long time before I walk into a Subaru Dealership. Really ticked!!! Oh yes--I was going to pay CASH, but never for a May-July POJ.