How Subaru Lost its Joint Venture in China

Marvin Zhu

A year ago, Fuji Heavy Industries, as well as several other global carmakers, chose not to locally produce vehicles in China. Fuji Heavy was said to be seeking a local partner to establish a joint venture. According to rumor, Great Wall, well known for its SUVs, was one possible candidate, as Subaru’s most popular model in China is also an SUV—the Forester.

Beijing Auto (BAIC) was also closely linked because the company needed to expand its product portfolio to compete against other state‐owned giants, such as SAIC, FAW and Dongfeng. In addition, some smaller players—such as Huatai,Youngman and several others— were also mentioned.

However, it was eventually revealed that Chery was the last remaining company in the running to partner with Subaru. A JV would use Chery’s new plant in Dalian to make the first model, which was likely to be the Forester. Chery could learn a lot from Subaru’s engine technology, and might even develop a new brand based on the new technology.

Unfortunately, according to a recent announcement from Fuji, the company has dropped plans to manufacture vehicles in China, after failing to secure the Chinese government’s approval for a joint venture. Since then, Fuji Heavy cut its global sales targets and instead decided to increase its manufacturing capacity in the United States and in Japan. Continue reading ›

Compacts, Car Models Add Momentum to February US Sales Totals

In February, fuel-efficient, compact models, including new and redesigned entries from the Detroit-based automakers, were in demand in the US market. On a selling-day-adjusted basis*, February deliveries were up slightly more than 11% from a year ago, and the seasonally adjusted annual sales rate (SAAR) translated to just over 15.0 million units, based on analysis from J.D. Power’s Power Information Network® (PIN) and LMC Automotive.

The Volkswagen Group (+26.8%) and Chrysler Group LLC (+34.8%) posted the largest year-over-year increases and outpaced the industry, despite a spike in gasoline prices, which are up by as much as 45 cents per gallon since the first of the year. At the same time, smaller models were more popular this year. Sub-compact segment deliveries climbed 38% in February vs. a year ago and accounted for 4.3% of industry sales, up from a 3.46% share in the prior year.

Positive factors driving February 2012 deliveries include an improving US economy, a drop in the unemployment rate, an advance in consumer confidence, and better stock market numbers, in addition to pent-up demand from owners replacing their older vehicles. Continue reading ›

Automakers Offer More Fuel-Efficient Engine Choices

Mike Omotoso

Ford Motor Co. has been increasing the number of models it will offer with 4-cylinder engines that are part of its EcoBoost engine program, both to boost fuel efficiency and to meet increasing CAFE standards. There are other automakers that are also making inroads with alternative powertrains to enhance the fuel efficiency of their fleet and meet CAFE standards. Continue reading ›