Many automakers have experienced some great years recently, but few have seen the kind of success that Subaru (FUJHY.PK) has been enjoying. The quirky niche Japanese automaker, part of Fuji Heavy Industries, has seen six consecutive years of sales growth and five years of record sales figures. But the brand isn’t done yet — even while sales numbers are at their best, Subaru is planning on capitalizing on its momentum and wants see its sales increase a further 33 percent by 2020.
To do so, the brand will be adding more production capacity and new models, including a three-row SUV and a plug-in hybrid. North American sales are projected to come in at 600,000 from 478,000 over the next six years, according to Subaru’s sales blueprint, and global sales are projected to exceed 1.1 million units in 2020, up from 825,000 in the last fiscal year.
Subaru’s Lafayette, Indiana, facility will see its production capacities increased from an extended 310,000 units per year to 400,000 after 2017. That coincides neatly with Toyota’s plans to pull production of its new Camry from the facility in 2016, which was announced last week. That will free up room for an additional 100,000 vehicles per year, and the Camry production will be moved to Toyota’s plant in Kentucky.
“We want to be a company that may not be big in size but has distinctive character and high-quality products,” Fuji Heavy president Yasuyuki Yoshinaga said, per Automotive News. “We will enhance the Subaru brand.”
A new seven-passenger SUV is in the works to replace the aging Tribeca, a vehicle that’s been met with mixed reviews and lukewarm sales. Details are scant, but it’s rumored to be released between 2016 and 2020. That vehicle will ride on Subaru’s new modularized Subaru Global Platform, which will form the underpinnings of every model in the lineup and will be introduced in the next-generation Impreza.
A plug-in hybrid model will also be introduced later on to help Subaru comply with new federal emissions regulations that take effect in 2018. The company will be using a system supplied by Toyota, a major Fuji Heavy shareholder, as a basis.
Subaru has more internal changes planned, too. This includes direct injection (to be debuted in 2016), cylinder deactivation and lean combustion cycles (both by 2020), and thermal efficiency in excess of 40 percent (that’s currently about what Toyota’s Prius hybrids manage).
Subaru has built its name on vehicles designed almost specifically for outdoor enthusiasts, and in recent bids to go mainstream, the company has made a few controversial decisions that have upset its fiercely loyal fan base. The most notable decision was to scrap the Impreza WRX hatchback for the new generation, instead producing the sedan variant alone.
The new WRX and WRX STI also made waves, as many felt the production models didn’t hold up to the buzz generated by the concept that was revealed initially. Nonetheless, Subaru’s decisions have been so far spot on from a business perspective, and sales in 2013 were up 26 percent, to 424,683.
Two of Subaru’s vehicles are among the 11 most fuel-efficient crossovers available on the market today. We showcased the complete list (which you can find here); check it out to see where the two Subarus landed.
1. Ford Escape: 32 miles per gallon
Ending up in a tie with several other models by achieving 32 miles per gallon on average, the Ford Escape gets the honor of starting our list. The Escape is Ford’s smaller SUV offering, a little brother to its popular Explorer model. Ford has included its EcoBoost engines, which do an excellent job of getting the most out of every gallon of fuel. Loaded with technology and offering seating for up to five, the Escape is a sleek SUV that will get you where you need to go with your fuel budget intact.
2. Chevrolet Equinox: 32 miles per gallon
Coming in tied with the Escape (and others), the Chevrolet Equinox earns its place on our list by hitting the 32-mile-per-gallon mark. Chevy took it upon itself to ramp up the efficiency, space, and style in the Equinox, with seating for five in an athletic crossover chassis. Chevrolet engineers designed the Equinox for optimal aerodynamics to help get the best fuel economy possible. For shoppers looking for a highly versatile SUV with excellent fuel economy, the Equinox has emerged as a favorite of drivers across the country.
3. GMC Terrain: 32 miles per gallon
Another entry achieving 32 miles per gallon, the GMC Terrain makes a strong candidate for anyone looking for a new SUV. The Terrain was built to be tough, and the engineers at GMC have managed to couple that toughness with enough efficiency to make it a great choice for any commuter. Known for building strong vehicles, GMC brought the same attitude to the most compact vehicle in its lineup, allowing for towing and hauling not possible with other models in its class. For consumers looking for the ultimate blend of power and efficiency, the Terrain is a worthy contender.
Check out the complete rankings here.