CNA – Demand for new vehicles in the United States (US) remains strong despite rising interest and loan rates, the chief executive of Japan’s Subaru Corp said yesterday.
“Americans are feeling a slowdown in the economy, but car sales are strong as supply lags,” said Tomomi Nakamura during a news conference after an earnings announcement.
US new vehicle sales in the next financial year starting in April 2023 are expected to be between 14 million and 14.5 million, according to local US sales staff, he said.
Soaring inflation, rising interest rates and growing risks of economic recession in major markets have darkened the demand outlook, although auto production remains tight in general due to chip shortages and COVID-related restrictions.
Subaru is forecasting operating profit of JPY300 billion (USD2.03 billion) in the business year ending March 2023, 50 per cent higher than its previous estimate due to a weak yen and price hikes to offset the impact of rising commodity prices.
The automaker sold about 140,000 cars in the US in its fiscal second quarter, up three per cent year-on-year and the only region outside Japan to show growth. It expects US sales for the current business year to reach 631,000, up 25 per cent year-to-year, although down fractionally from the previous forecast.
Still, Nakamura said it would be difficult to expand US production due to a tight labour market.
Subaru reported JPY73.5 billion in operating profit for the July-September quarter, almost triple the figure from a year earlier, mainly helped by a weak yen.
Rival Toyota Motor Corp on Tuesday cut its North America sales forecast for this business year by six per cent to 2.45 million vehicles.