The Subaru plant in Gunma, Japan where they make the 2020 Forester compact SUV was hit hard by the coronavirus shutdown. Not with plant employees getting the virus, but between the automaker’s two production plants, the other in Lafayette, Indiana, they have been dark for weeks. With the shutdown, Subaru Corporation has seen a production loss of 150,000 vehicles.
Both plants restarted on May 11 after being shut down due to the coronavirus, but they are not running at full capacity yet. A report from the Japan Times says the Japanese automaker expects the loss of vehicle production to get worse. The automaker originally planned to begin operation at full capacity on May 31, but is only running the day shift and has now extended the halt of the night shift until June 19.
The plant in Gunma, Japan manufactures the 2020 Forester, the automaker’s number one selling model around the globe. Subaru ships over 60 percent of Forester compact SUVs to the U.S., its largest market. The loss of 150,000 vehicles is equivalent to around 15 percent of the automaker’s annual global sales. With 6 weeks of the plant running one shift, even fewer Forester models will be rolling off assembly lines.
The 2020 Subaru Forester has been a big hit for the automaker, and is now the number one selling model in the U.S., overtaking the popular Outback wagon. Customers in the U.S. purchased a record number of the compact SUVs in February before dropping 33.7 percent in March when the coronavirus hit.
Subaru reported sales were up globally 3 percent year ending in March, but that was before the coronavirus shut things down. The Japanese automaker is expecting a major impact in the next 12 months. Subaru of America reported a 47 percent drop in sales in March and April and Subaru Canada saw sales fall 75 percent last month.
Subaru President Tomomi Nakamura said in a telephone conference Monday, “The outlook for reopening economies in countries remains unclear. We are expecting a major impact in the year to March 2021.”
What does it mean for customers looking to buy a new 2020 Subaru Forester? With sales down, there should be ample supplies of the popular compact SUV. Most retailers are showing adequate inventory and many new Foresters are “in transit.” Subaru retailers are open and scheduling vehicle test drives, offering 100 percent remote purchasing for customers, and will even deliver the vehicle to your home.
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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