New path for Forester
On Monday, Subaru’s all-new Forester will make its first public appearance in Japan. Aside from completely new styling, it is expected to pick up the new 2.0-litre boxer engine and continuously variable Subaru Lineartronic Transmission (SLT) from the latest Impreza.
A high-performance version is likely but don’t expect power to have priority over fuel economy. Subaru prides itself on efficiency these days and the fast Forester will probably use new technology such as a smaller twin-scroll turbo.
It is also possible that top Forester versions will be fitted with the EyeSight active safety system recently introduced on some Legacy and Outback models: it uses twin cameras that “see” in three dimensions, to detect potential obstacles ahead and allow the car to brake automatically when required.
Car sales crisis scrapped
According to figures presented to the media by Toyota NZ chief executive Alastair Davis, this country’s new car sales are increasing at a rate second only to Japan. New Zealand new car sales are up 21% for the 2012 financial year, just behind Japan at 22%.
“Our economy is growing at 2% to 3% but the car market grew by more than 20%,” Mr Davis says. “I know that’s not strictly a fair comparison because the car business tends to outperform economic trends. But that growth rate is well above what anybody expected this year.”
Mr Davis cited consumer confidence, exhange rates and the timing of lease commitments as playing their part, but also argued that the increased scrappage rate of older cars was a significant behind-the-scenes contributor.
Car fleet ageing
“In New Zealand, the average age of a car when it is scrapped is 18 years. The car fleet is ageing badly and with the bubble of 1996 cars now 16 years old, that creates pressures in the marketplace.”
More cars in New Zealand are 1996 models than any other because the Frontal Impact Standard effectively restricts used-car imports to those manufactured during or after that year.
Mr Davis argues that many 1996 cars are reaching the point where it is more economical to scrap them than continue maintaining them to warrant of fitness standards, prompting a chain reaction in new car sales.
With two more years to go until until the “bubble of 1996 cars” reaches 18 years of age, he predicts further growth in the new car market for the next 12 months and beyond.
If only stats were sexy
It is predictable, but I cannot let the launch of a new Corolla pass without sharing some startling statistics.
The car was launched in Japan in 1966 and reached New Zealand in 1969. Corolla has reached cumulative sales of more than 222,000 in this country and has accounted for 79% of all passenger cars sold by Toyota New Zealand.
Globally, 100 Corollas have been sold every hour for the past 46 years. The Takaoka plant, which was built to produce the 1966 model, is still the main Corolla factory today and produces cars at the rate of 2557 per day.
That’s two every minute.