Published on February 20, 2008
With a sales target of 400 vehicles this year, Subaru is expected to grow by more than 300 per cent in Thailand. Last year Motor Image, the official importer of Subaru, sold 90 cars and stated the company was not able to keep up with the demand in the market. Back orders are from two to three months long.
"The launch of the new Impreza has seen a very positive response from customers," said Glen Tan, group chief executive of Motor Image. "Its styling is now more subtle and appeals to a premium and wider market. The Impreza has managed to move out of the previously known 'racer-boy' category it used to be in. More female customers now consider our vehicles, along with people from wider age ranges. Besides this, the overall market is also improving with the new government."
The Impreza accounts for more than 75 per cent of Subaru's Thai sales. Of this, between 60-70 per cent of the Imprezas sold come with a 2.0-litre engine, followed by the 1.5-litre version and finally the WRX performance version. Tan added that the response had been better than expected in the whole Asean region.
Motor Image has showrooms in China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand. Sales in the region reached 6,300 units last year. In 2008, the company hopes to sell 10,000 cars, an increase of 58 per cent. Tan added that it was difficult to acquire the required quota from Japan as demand is high for the Impreza globally.
"We do realise that some of our more driving-oriented customers are not happy with the change in the product, which is why the Impreza STI is a very different car from the regular Impreza, and will still appeal to performance-oriented drivers. We will launch the STI in Thailand at the upcoming Bangkok International Motor Show in April at a price of about Bt3.9 million," he said.
Subaru will also introduce the sedan version of the Impreza in the second half of the year, most likely at the Bangkok International Motor Expo in December. The sedan will provide an alternative to customers who need the extra trunk space. In June, the company will launch the new version of the Forester, which is the second-best seller in the Subaru range in Thailand.
Also being considered for the Thai market is the production version of the seven-seat Exiga concept car previewed at the Tokyo Motor show. Tan said that only after carefully studying the market would the company decide to import the model, as it is mainly a product for the Japanese market.
If sold in the Kingdom, it would be unched in the third or fourth quarter.
Tan added that the company was negotiating with STI (the performance division of Subaru) to procure performance parts for those who only want to modify normal Imprezas, rather than buy a complete Impreza STI.
He said it would take at least one year before the research and development for performance parts is complete and that Motor Image would start selling them as soon as they are available from STI.
The Luxury LS 460 is a wonderfully comfaortable car fitted with all mod cons, althoough not necessarily the most fun vehicle to drive.