Global Economics

Subaru Sales in U.S., China to Rise Next Year


Ikuo Mori, CEO of Subaru parent Fuji Heavy, says the Japanese carmaker is considering production in China and may choose a local partner in 2010

By Kiyori Ueno and Yuki Hagiwara

(Bloomberg) — Fuji Heavy Industries, the maker of Subaru-brand cars, expects to boost sales in the U.S. and China next year and is considering making vehicles in China as automobile demand surges in the world's most populous nation.

The Japanese carmaker may sell 230,000 vehicles in the U.S. next year compared with 215,000 this year, Chief Executive Officer Ikuo Mori, 62, said in an interview at the company's head office in Tokyo today. China sales may rise to 50,000 from 35,000, he said.

Fuji Heavy, 16.5 percent owned by Toyota Motor (TM), is considering local production in China as the nation's vehicle demand may rise to as much as 16 million units next year, Mori said. The maker of Forester sport-utility vehicles increased sales 84 percent in China in the first 10 months of this year as economic growth and subsidies boosted industrywide demand.

Fuji Heavy may choose a local partner to produce vehicles in China within a year, Mori said.

The carmaker rose 1.3 percent to close at 405 yen in Tokyo trading, compared with a 1.5 percent gain in Japan's Topix index.

Fuji Heavy raised U.S. sales of its vehicles, including the revamped Legacy sedan, by 14 percent in the 11 months through November even as industrywide sales in the nation dropped 24 percent.

The carmaker narrowed its full-year loss forecast last month, citing rising sales and cost cuts. The automaker now expects to post a net loss of 25 billion yen ($279 million) in the year ending March 31, compared with an earlier forecast for a 55 billion yen loss. Fuji Heavy also raised its global vehicle sales forecast for this fiscal year to 545,000 from 508,000.

To contact the reporters on this story: Kiyori Ueno in Tokyo at kueno2@bloomberg.net; Yuki Hagiwara in Tokyo at yhagiwara1@bloomberg.net


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