Subaru managed to post record sales figures in the U.S. market despite a weakened economy and a slumping auto segment. Don't consider this a fluke -- numbers for 2010 suggest the automaker is well on its way to repeating its success, and Yoshio Hasunuma, CEO of Subaru of America, predicts the company will remain strong through 2011.

Subaru managed to sell a record 216,652 vehicles in the U.S. last year, and is well on pace to break its 2009 record and Hasunuma's target of 240,000 vehicles in 2010. In an interview with Automotive News, Hasunuma revealed the reasons behind the brand's success along with where he wants it to go.

According to the CEO, the company's success is tied to several factors, including improved dealership cooperation, focused product planning, and an increasing number of shoppers looking to downsize their vehicle(s). The recipe seems to be successful -- sales of Subaru's Outback have doubled, and Legacy sales in 2010 are up nearly 66 percent. Forester sales have increased 17 percent in 2010, although the model is nearly three years old.

Marketing, it seems, has also helped draw attention to Subaru's portfolio. The automaker reorganized its marketing strategy to include more city-specific campaigns instead of blanket regional marketing. The new method has enabled the company to renew its focus on regions outside the U.S. snowbelt -- as a result, sales around the Dallas, Texas region are up 84 percent, while sales in Florida have increased nearly 72 percent. Even dealers around Los Angeles have seen a 35-percent uptick in sales.

This growth leads Hasunuma to believe Subaru's momentum will continue well through 2011.

"I believe we will steadily grow, even in 2011," he told Automotive News. "Our products appeal to the customer and meet their basic fundamental requirements."

Critics may note that several of the automaker's vehicles will be somewhat dated -- even the new Legacy will be almost two years old at that point. Still, thanks to its small portfolio size, Hasunuma says Subaru can quickly refresh and revise products to continue to appeal to customers.

"Customer perceptions change year after year, and we can react quickly," the CEO said.

We're excited to sample the new 2011 Impreza WRX STI, but we're perhaps more interested in the fate of the aging Tribeca crossover. Although Hasunuma dodged the question about a second-generation model, he noted the company will continue to supply the model "as long as the customer wants it."

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)