Subaru's New U.S. Chief To Lead Brand's Halcyon Days

Subaru of America, Inc. has tapped Tomomi Nakamura, who is currently the VP and senior general manager at Subaru global marketing, to come Stateside to replace Takeshi Tachimori as chairman and CEO of Subaru of America. Tachimori assumes responsibility for global sales for Fuji Heavy Industries, including responsibility for the U.S. market.

"Mr. Tachimori led our business through consecutive sales records and we look forward to his continued work in our market," said Thomas J. Doll, president and chief operating officer, Subaru of America, in a statement. 

Subaru has been going great guns in the U.S. for several years now with a pretty much completely new line of products and sales that have helped give it record global share at (per the company) 3%. Subaru says it is the only automotive brand with five consecutive years of sales increases. Last year’s record was 424,683 vehicles, a 26.2% improvement.

The Cherry Hill, N.J.-based Subaru of America set records in both January and February, bucking a lackluster market for both months. The company posted a 19% improvement in January and a 24% improvement last month, during which it sold 34,909 vehicles. It is worth mentioning that Subaru only makes AWD vehicles, a brand differentiator (along with its boxer engine configuration) since it came to the U.S. market in 1968. The symmetrical all-wheel drive no doubt helped sales, if only psychologically: Subaru has traditionally had a rock-solid fan base in cold-weather markets, but thanks to the various polar vortices this year, more of the U.S. has been a cold weather-market. Chrysler's Jeep brand also had strong sales, likely, or at least in part, for the same reason.

Subaru's Forester model, a nameplate now in its 17th year, accounted for about a 100% increase thanks to the debut of the fourth-generation version of the crossover. The company will launch the 2015 Legacy mid-size sedan later this year. The automaker also has the highest conquest rate of any automaker in the U.S. — 60% of its buyers last year were new to the brand — which may speak to its fresh lineup and why it enjoys a unique position in the market. The sales target this year is 460,000 units.

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