Subaru has a new CEO at the helm, Atsushi Osaki is tasked with uprooting the venerable Japanese auto manufacturer’s legacy combustion engine predilections to that of a software-first fully electric, and electrified, car maker. Subaru is embarking on a course to “Tesla” its business model. First, it must tackle the issue of putting back the oomph into its U.S. sales strategy which is beginning to decline. The U.S. represents Subaru’s biggest market, but the pandemic and ensuing semiconductor shortage exposed Subaru’s operations which in turn affected sales volumes.
Subaru’s U.S. sales fell 12.6 percent in 2022 with volume sales of over 500K, as a result, Subaru’s 12-year run of registering year-on-year sales records ended. With it came the acknowledgment within Subaru that change was needed not only in the supply chain management but also in product development. Indeed Subaru forged closer ties with Toyota, the partnership yielded the pure electric bZ4X and Solterra.
However, Subaru’s outgoing CEO Tomomi Nakamura was precipitously skeptical about electric vehicles and Subaru’s product strategy reflected this. In its domestic market, Subaru suffered a 2018 blip of reliability issues leading to recalls. Atsushi Osaki was brought in to improve Subaru’s aging manufacturing infrastructure and improve cadence and quality control.
Osaki is a long-time Subaru company man having joined the organisation as a University graduate in 1988. In the short-term Subaru will electrify its current range of combustion engines. Going forward Subaru will begin a multi-billion dollar investment towards electric vehicle production, from batteries to electric motors.
For now, the most pressing issue for Osaki is resolving the supply of semiconductors.