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Subaru's Shrinking New Car Inventory And Why You Aren’t Leaving The Brand Now

Will customers buying the 2022 Subaru Forester, 2022 Outback, and Crosstrek remain loyal with shrinking inventories? Until now, Subaru enjoyed the highest customer loyalty rate. Will that change now, or will customers remain faithful to the brand?

In the 2021 J.D. Power Automotive Brand Loyalty Study, Subaru of America ranked number one in customer loyalty beating Toyota and Honda. But will Subaru keep those customers if they can't find a 2022 Forester, Outback, or Crosstrek on retailers' lots? That's the dilemma of all car brands, according to a report from Automotive News.

Augusto Amorim, senior manager for U.S. vehicle sales forecasts at LMC Automotive, said automakers working through these inventory issues should be thinking right now about customer loyalty. If top loyalty brands like Subaru lose customers to other car brands that do have vehicles on their lots, "It means that it will be difficult for automakers to win those customers back."

2022 Subaru Forester, 2021 Subaru Crosstrek, 2022 Subaru Outback
photo credit: Crosscreek Subaru

Consider "someone who was driving a Fusion," Amorim posited this month when discussing the long-term impacts of the chip crisis. "Ford's hope was that person was going to move to Escape. But what happened this year? If that person needed a new car, they went to a Ford dealer, and there were no Escapes to be bought. So they went to a Toyota dealer, and they could still get a Camry if they wanted a car, or they could buy a RAV4 because Toyota still had inventory."

Further analysis from IHS Markit, brand loyalty among U.S. consumers for new vehicles dropped to a six-year low in June. Research of new vehicle registration data through June indicates that the overall brand loyalty rate of 51 percent in the U.S. market is the lowest since August 2015 due to low inventory levels.

2022 Subaru Forester, 2021 Subaru Crosstrek, 2022 Subaru Outback
photo credit: Crosscreek Subaru

Tom Libby, associate director of loyalty and industry analysis at IHS Markit, says, "Obviously a major risk is that due to lack of inventory, a brand's existing owners now are more likely to defect to another brand than they have; in quite a while."

A high percentage of Subaru Forester and Outback customers are return customers trading in a Subaru vehicle. Some customers could defect with the inventory shortages and lack of new Forester, Outback, and Crosstrek models on retailers' lots. But it looks like the majority of its loyal customers won't leave the brand.

Subaru still holds the Best Overall Brand in its 2021 Brand Image awards on Kelly Blue Book's brand watch report. Subaru is also the most trusted brand and the best performance brand, according to KBB.

2022 Subaru Forester, 2021 Subaru Crosstrek, 2022 Subaru Outback
photo credit: Crosscreek Subaru

Is Subaru losing customers now because of low inventory?

Subaru's demand for the 2022 Forester, Outback, and Crosstrek remains strong, and customers are ordering their new model and are willing to wait for it to be shipped to the dealer. We spoke to a source close to Subaru, and he told us, "I've taken more orders for new Subaru models in the last couple of weeks than at any time in my entire seven-year career at Subaru!" He said he is pre-selling more Forester compact SUVs, and Crosstrek is a close second.

Another problem affecting new models is that Subaru Forester and Crosstrek vehicles are backed up at the Port of Los Angeles due to a lack of workers to unload the ships from Japan. Check out a report here.

Subaru is not alone in challenges with low inventory of new vehicles. The refreshed 2022 Subaru Forester, 2022 Crosstrek, and 2022 Outback are coming in, but most if not all have been pre-sold to loyal customers who are willing to wait for their new all-wheel-drive vehicle.

You Might Also Like: Subaru's Super-Tight Inventory And The New 2022 Model Outlook

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 Subaru of Glendale


TN (not verified)    October 27, 2021 - 12:25PM

We bought a 2020 Subaru Outback, and after a month, the battery died. We had to have it towed into the dealership. We discovered that if you don’t use if at least twice a week, the battery dies and can’t be recharged. How could Subaru NOt KNOW about this problem? Obviously they did. Stay away from Subaru at all costs, if you don’t want to be in our situation.

Bill Kalivas (not verified)    October 27, 2021 - 3:30PM

In reply to by TN (not verified)

I was in an accident in my Subaru. T-Boned at 40 mph. No side curtains or air bags deployed. Car was 3 months old to the day.Subaru kept my car tied up for 4 months and then told me the car performed perfectly. What are airbags for? How is that possible? The had the information downloaded from My Car and would not share it. High Loyalty Rating… Why/How? How safe is it really? I wanted them to buy back my car … they refused. Get in a wreck that is not your fault, You tell me how good the car is. 3 months old 5500 miles. Bill in Texas

NMK (not verified)    October 28, 2021 - 8:29AM

In reply to by Bill Kalivas (not verified)

That is definitely unfortunate. Glad you are OK. But in the defense of subaru not every impact warrants the airbags to deploy. Since you seem to be fine without any airbags that should show you how good the build quality is. Airbags are a last resort.

DN (not verified)    October 27, 2021 - 7:49PM

In reply to by TN (not verified)

This is by far the most slanderous and inaccurate piece of writing I have ever read. Your BATTERY will discharge all of its power if you don't use it twice a week???? What drugs are you on???? And you say stay away from Subaru... Let me guess they gave you another battery that died in a week because you didn't start your car????? LMAO THIS IS SO DUMB

NMK (not verified)    October 27, 2021 - 3:49PM

Well Ford has lost my business indefinitely. I drive sedans. They dont make any. My last 3 new vehicles were Fords. My next is a WRX.... see ya Ford