Inchcape locks in Subaru until 2022

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FUJI Heavy Industries is believed to have entrusted London-based multinational automotive distribution and retail company Inchcape with a 10-year extension of its Subaru distribution rights for Australia.

GoAuto understands the decision follows steady growth of the Subaru brand and sales volumes over the past decade, with a 77 per cent increase in retail sales across Australia since 2002.

This year, Subaru sales have jumped 14.5 per cent – greater than the industry average of 10.4 per cent – mainly on the back of the successful XV small SUV that last month accounted for about a quarter of Subaru volume.

While Fiat Group recently took back its Fiat and Alfa Romeo distribution rights from its independent importer in Australia, Subaru’s Japanese parent company Fuji is continuing with Inchcape and its Sydney-based Subaru Australia team, headed by managing director Nick Senior.

Both Subaru Australia and Inchcape’s London headquarters have declined to comment on the move, with Inchcape group communications director Ken Lee telling GoAuto: “We would never comment on or disclose discussions between Inchcape and our OEM (original equipment manufacturer) brand partners.

“We have been proud to represent Subaru in Australia for [39] years.”

Inchape not only owns the car and parts distribution business for Australia and New Zealand but all a number of key retail outlets, including the big Subaru Docklands site in Melbourne, and the AutoNexus vehicle and parts logistics business that handles Subaru stock preparation and distribution.

It is unclear if the contract extension applies to the New Zealand rights.

Subaru Australia is poised to launch one of the most anticipated cars of 2012 – the BRZ sports coupe.

While the volumes are expected to be small compared with mainstream models such as the XV and Impreza, the incremental sales and ‘halo’ publicity surrounding the boxer-engined coupe will be invaluable to the Subaru brand in Australia.

The BRZ is a joint venture with Toyota, which recently announced a $29,990 entry price for the base model of its version, the 86.

In the first six months of this year, Subaru has sold 21,343 vehicles, compared with 18,645 in the first half of last year.

This puts it on track to break the 40,000-vehicle barrier for the first time, after sitting in mid-to-high 30,000-unit range for several years.