Sales at the Werribee Plaza retail store have been running at around 30 units a month, which has given the company the confidence to also build the first-ever dedicated Subaru service centre at a shopping precinct via Subaru Retail, a subsidiary of Subaru Australia parent Inchcape.
Subaru’s managing director Colin Christie said: “The first shopping centre service centre will be at Werribee and will be in the carpark.
Mr Christie told GoAutoNews Premium: “The shopping centre operators have been unbelievably co-operative with us.
“So now we have a store in the centre, we have cars in the carpark for testing and now we are going to launch the service centre. So, to us, this rollout of convenience features is an extension of ‘Subaru do’.”
Mr Christie also said the brand will expand its service network into new areas without necessarily increasing the number of Subaru dealerships, and that opening new Subaru service outlets would take precedence over any increase in dealership numbers.
“We are focusing on in-filling in our service network. We need that network to meet customer requirements across the country and that has taken more attention than looking at increasing our dealer numbers,” he said.
“There are some places in the rural areas that may need dealers, but we’re certainly not looking at any major (dealer) expansion.”
Meanwhile, Subaru Australia, which has already been pushing hard into fleets, believes the new Forester, due here in September, will become the “game changer” for the brand in the fleet market.
“In the past 18 months we have increased our targeting on fleets,” Mr Christie said.
He said that while fleet sales represented “a huge opportunity” for Subaru, the company needed to be cognisant of the impact lower fleet prices would have on the resale values of private buyers of the same cars.
“There is a fine line between having a product that appeals to fleet buyers and yet retains its value on the used-car market in the future,” Mr Christie said.
“We have to find the balance but I believe that the new Forester has significant appeal because of its improved comfort and much higher safety levels.
“We have had strong success previously in fleet with Outback, XV and the current Forester.
“But the new Forester’s Driver Monitoring System (DMS) fits right in with the needs for fleets to provide maximum safety for its employees. For any fleet operation, the benefits are very important.”
Mr Christie said expansion of its fleet business was one of several initiatives, including more service centres in rural areas, to provide additional options for customers who travel the country.
Mobile service swamped by airbag recall
Subaru temporarily drops mobile servicing as Takata floods dealer workshops
SUBARU Australia has pulled back its innovative mobile service fleet in Melbourne and Sydney as the weight of the Takata airbag recall stretches workshop capacities.
GoAutoNews Premium has learnt that the airbag recall is now taking more than 40 per cent of current dealer capacity.
The workshop allocation to the Takata issue has increased significantly with Subaru dealers already coping by putting on extra technicians, extending trading hours and using additional facilities.
Subaru Australia said that while customer reaction to mobile servicing was excellent, the vans were now needed to work exclusively on repairing Takata airbags.
“They are being used to increase our capacity for remote work, which are those customers who struggle to get into a dealership for airbags replacement,” said Subaru Australia managing director Colin Christie.
“They also can enhance dealership needs when it comes to easing workshop pressure. It has worked fantastically.”
The change, regarded as temporary until the Takata replacement program eases, shows the level of effort being undertaken to complete the recall demands.
By Neil Dowling