Subaru’s Crazy Back Orders And The New Year Ahead
2021 was a crazy year for Subaru of America. There were severe shortages of its most popular models like the 2022 Subaru Forester compact SUV, Outback midsize SUV/crossover, and Crosstrek subcompact SUV. What can new car shoppers expect in the new year?
Subaru expects its new car inventory to improve, but it could take a year to return to normal levels. Automotive News (by subscription) reports say the Camden, N.J. automaker now has a 5-day supply. Subaru Corporation President and CEO Tomomi Nakamura says a 30 day supply of new models is the goal in 2022.
Will Subaru have more plant shutdowns in 2022?
Nakamura told Automotive News, Subaru is not expecting any more plant shutdowns. The recent production report from Subaru reveals production dropped 11.3 percent in November at the plant in Japan, where they manufacture the 2022 Forester, Crosstrek, WRX, and BRZ models.
Subaru says, "Japan production declined because of adjustments due to tight supply and demand of semiconductor-based parts and delays in parts supply from business partners because of the spread of the new coronavirus infection in Southeast Asia."
photo credit: North Fort Lauderdale Subaru
Production at the Subaru plant in Lafayette, Indiana, where they manufacture the 2022 Outback, Ascent, Impreza, and Legacy, increased 13.8 percent in November.
Subaru says, "Production increased (in the U.S.) due to the reaction to the adjustment and the delay in the transportation of parts last year. It was also affected by the tight supply and demand of semiconductor-based parts."
When will the backorders improve?
Nakamura told Automotive News the backorders stand at around 45,000 vehicles in the U.S. In October, that logjam is more than the 36,000 vehicles Subaru's U.S. retailers sold. And Subaru retailers are still adding about 10,000 cars a month to the swelling backlog.
In a normal situation, sold orders are around 5,000 to 6,000 units. It's currently approximately 45,000 units, which is pretty high. And each month, we see about a 10,000-unit increase of sold orders. We're seeing that momentum, and we cannot supply vehicles to fill those orders.
When will Subaru inventory improve?
"We still have uncertainty in front of us, considering the semiconductors situation," Nakamura said. "So it might be difficult to recover that in December or January. So we are seeing a gradual increase in inventories and gradual recovery of supplies. And that is going to take about a year."
A Subaru retailer near Denver told us they have two new 2022 Forester compact SUVs, but they are already sold. They have no new 2022 WRX or BRZ sports cars, and "they could be very late." The source said 100 percent of our allocation (Forester, Outback, and Crosstrek) through February and early March is pre-sold or reserved."
Subaru is not the only automaker with tight inventory
Automotive News says Subaru and Mazda had the tightest inventory levels of any automaker, according to the Automotive News Research & Data Center. "Ford, Toyota, and Volvo all saw their days' supply tighten over the past month, and Honda and Subaru's days' supply both increased slightly, while Hyundai-Kia's inventory levels remained flat."
What's the outlook for Subaru in 2022?
Nakamura predicted Subaru's U.S. sales will bounce back in 2022, but first, he said, the automaker must secure enough microchips to build more cars. Nakamura told AN the semiconductor shortage is easing, but with all automakers asking for more microchips, "We're not sure at this point how much supply that we can get."
Its new car inventory will improve, and Nakamura said that Subaru is expecting "a gradual ramp-up" of 2022 Forester, Outback, and Crosstrek; its top three selling models in 2022.
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. Check out 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: main image Crosscreek Subaru, Subaru Report