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Subaru boosts SUV production

Subaru announced on Friday that they plan to increase SUV production at their Indiana factory. Subaru will be investing NZ$200 million into the venture, which will also provide an additional 200 jobs.

Subaru debuts the all-new 2019 Ascent SUV at the L.A. Auto Show.

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Subaru dented by quality scandal

Automaker Subaru said on Friday that it’s planning to recall roughly 255,000 cars, becoming the latest Japanese firm hurt by a quality scandal.

The company said they allowed uncertified workers to carry out inspections on its vehicles at its biggest Japanese factory.

CEO Yasuyuki Yoshinaga told reporters that the practice goes back thirty years and that the company didn’t realize until recently that it was breaking government rules. 

Workers who didn’t have enough experience to do checks borrowed Japanese “hanko” seals from authorized employees and stamped documents to show vehicles had passed the tests.

The issues at Subaru were revealed after Nissan reported similar problems last month, which then prompted the Japanese government to request that other automakers inspect their production lines. 

The scandals have stunned the public and have questioned the nation’s prized image for “monozukuri” or craftsman-like quality.

Subaru expects the planned recall to cost it more than NZ$64 million

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Subaru helps out Ironman

Braden Currie wins the Santa Cruz 70.3 in September. Photo: Santa Cruz 70.3

Subaru of New Zealand brand ambassador Braden Currie is just a few days out from competing in the biggest race of his successful endurance career.

Early on Sunday morning NZ time, the Wanaka-based athlete will make his debut in the gruelling Ironman World Championship in Hawaii.

It consists of a 3.8km swim, 180km bike and 42.2km run, which he has been training more than eight months for.

Currie qualified through the world champs after winning Ironman NZ and the Taupo 70.3.

Braden Currie and his son Tarn load their Subaru Outback up with their mountain bikes after a family ride. Photo: Graeme Murray, Filtered Vision

He then bagged the final points necessary by coming third at the Ironman Asia Pacific Championship, in Cairns, in June.

As part of his preparations, he experienced Australia’s warmer climate in Noosa where he had access to a Subaru Outback from a dealership in Brisbane.

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Subaru’s 2018 performance range: first look

Subaru’s 2018 performance range has debuted with technical specs, design insights and pricing info.

The all-wheel drive turbocharged WRX, WRX STi and Levorg 2.0 GT-S displays a number of exterior design changes which include new alloy wheel designs, front grilles, front bumpers and LED headlight designs.

The MY18 Subaru WRX STi.

Subaru of New Zealand managing director Wallis Dumper says that the WRX and STi have gained a special place in their rally heritage market over the years.

“There are a huge amount of safety and specification improvements to the full range of WRX, STi and Levorg cars. These are cars that are exciting to drive and have very little competition,” Dumper says.

New breaking and wheel upgrades feature on all the new WRX STi models, to 340mm front and 326mm rear cross-drilled rotors clamped by six piston front and two piston rear yellow Brembo calipers.

Entry-level WRX STi’s gain heated door mirrors, while WRX STi Premium and WRX STi add the Front View Monitor.

All STi models have also received changes to suspension components and the driver control systems.

Every Levorg 2.0 GT-S, WRX and WRX STI has an independent five-star rating for occupant safety.

The models will come in the following variants and prices; WRX 6-speed manual at $48,990 and the WRX 8-speed SLT at $50,990. The WRX Premium 6-speed manual at $53,990 and the WRX Premium 8-speed SLT at $55,990. The WRX STi at $59,990 and the WRX STi Premium $64,990, both available with and optional rear spoiler, and the Levorg 2.0 GT at $57,990.

Subaru has not yet announced a specific date for the launch of the range.

The MY18 Subaru Levorg.

 

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Subaru XV update

The Subaru XV has been updated for a smoother ride on NZ roads.

The Subaru XV 2.0i Sport and XV 2.0i Premium include Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive (AWD) with X-Mode, advanced engine technology.

“This Subaru XV arrives at a pivotal time for Subaru, with our sales growing to a whole new level not only in New Zealand but also globally. Outback has carved a hugely successful path here and the new Impreza 2.0 Sport is doing the same, with sales simply limited by production allocation from Subaru Corporation in Japan.” says New Zealand managing director Wallis Dumper

The SUV kit includes X-Mode, which improves driver control on rough roads, steep terrain and slippery surfaces through integrated control of engine, AWD, Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) and braking. The hill descent control setting gives drivers greater peace-of-mind by maintaining low speeds and vehicle stability on downhill slopes. These fabulous features ensure Subaru XV offers a strong, sassy presence on tarmac, gravel and dirt.

Both Subaru XV models sport a 2.0 litre direct injection DOHC horizontally opposed Boxer engine with 115 Kilowatts of power at 6000 rpm (up 5kW from the superseded XV) and 196 Newtonmetres of torque at 4000 rpm.

The Subaru XV is already well established in New Zealand and this new line-up provides us with the opportunity to offer even better value in this growing market segment. Its sales will only grow with the debut of these two new specification and new price-positioned Subaru XV models, which are even more capable of ‘doing’ the Kiwi lifestyle,” Dumper says.

The Subaru XV has been awarded a 5-star ANCAP safety rating, with the latest and greatest tech features, like Subaru’s world-class EyeSight® Driver Assist system. EyeSight® on Subaru XV includes the new Lane Keep Assist feature, which can correct a driver’s drift into an adjoining lane. Reverse Automatic Braking is also added to the new Subaru XV 2.0i Premium ingredient list, together with High Beam Assist.

Both Subaru XV models also feature Active Torque Vectoring, which uses the VDC system to gently apply the inside brakes when cornering during sporty driving. This in turn directs more drive torque to the outside wheels which helps the SUV turn better and improves steering response and control.

New to the Subaru XV 2.0i Sport is Apple Car Play and Android connectivity while the Subaru XV 2.0i Premium picks up Satellite Navigation by Tom Tom, featuring Traffic. This system gives real time traffic information when using navigation in New Zealand’s busiest cities, Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Tauranga and Hamilton.

Maximum luggage capacity with the back seat down is up 24 litres and the length is increased by 41mm. In fact the whole Subaru XV cargo area is wider at the opening, lower edge and between the wheel housings.

The Subaru XV 2.0i SPORT retails at $34,990 and the and the Subaru XV 2.0i Premium has an RRP of $39,990.

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Art Green joins Subaru NZ

Subaru ambassador Art Green with the Subaru Levorg.

Subaru New Zealand has signed Bachelor New Zealand star Art Green to be their latest brand ambassador.

Green starred in the first season of the popular reality TV show in 2015, and has since become a recognised public figure, mainly for his adherence to a sporty lifestyle and paleo diet, and has participated in endurance sports and a charity boxing match.

He said he had grown up with the Subaru brand, and felt it was “the perfect fit.”

“My family have owned Subarus throughout much of my life, so I grew up knowing the cars and experiencing how well they drive.”

Green will drive the Subaru Levorg sports wagon. “We believe he is the ideal fit,” said Subaru managing director Wallis Dumper. “He embodies what Kiwi Subaru drivers are all about.”

The 2.0-litre Levorg has been dubbed by Subaru New Zealand as the spiritual successor to the Legacy GT wagon, and contains Subaru’s EyeSight safety technology and the latest in-cabin infotainment features.

The former Bachelor star will join existing Subaru brand ambassadors rally driver Ben Hunt and Coast to Coast champion Braden Currie, as well as a range of businesses and events, including Coast to Coast and Leadfoot Festival.

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Subaru considers its EV future

Subaru CEO Yasuyuki Yoshinaga said his company is looking at electrifying existing models of its fleet rather than designing an all-new line-up in its future technological plans.

“If there’s already an attractive Subaru model, for example the XV crossover, and if a customer in Beijing wants one but is only allowed to buy an electric vehicle, if there’s no electric version then he can’t buy it,” he told journalists at Subaru’s Tokyo headquarters.

“Providing the choice of an EV means the customer can still desire the same Subaru.”

Car makers around the world are have pledged billions of dollars of investment into developing EVs in recent months as investment in electric infrastructure, such as charging stations, grows.

Subaru plans to release a plug-in hybrid next year and an all-electric vehicle by 2021, and has budgeted $1.7 billion for their electric research and development. However, this investment lags behind competitors like Toyota and Honda.

Yoshinaga is banking on the company’s reputation in road safety rather than its engines. The brand has performed well in Australasian-based ANCAP road safety tests, with every vehicle graded receiving a 5-star rating. The XV crossover, recently released in New Zealand, scored a 5-star rating overnight.  

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5-star ANCAP rating for Subaru XV, Holden Astra

The Holden Astra mid-test

The Subaru XV and Holden Astra have both earned 5-star safety ratings from Australasian watchdog ANCAP, with the Subaru’s pedestrian protection scoring particularly high.  

“It’s good to see more and more vehicles entering our national fleet that take into account the safety of all our different road users,” says AA Motoring Services general manager Stella Stocks.

“The Astra sedan and XV offer high levels of protection to occupants across a variety of crash scenarios including frontal, side and rear-end crashes,” said ANCAP CEO James Goodwin.

Testing will be more rigorous next year and include a requirement for vehicles to include autonomous engine braking (AEB) in order to receive five stars. AEB prevents crashes by automatically engaging the brakes when it senses a hazard in close range.

While AEB is a standard option on the three higher XV models, it’s unavailable on the entry-level variant. The Astra sedan lacked any AEB option across the model range. 

“Both cars would make safe family vehicles and come with a fair amount of safety assist technologies, but we would have liked to see AEB at least as an option on higher variants of the Astra,” Stocks said.

“Manufacturers will need to start including AEB as standard sooner rather than later as rating requirements become more stringent next year,” she added.

The 5 star ratings apply to all sedan variants of the Holden Astra and all variants of the Subaru XV.

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Car makers settle Takata lawsuit

Four car makers have agreed to an $800 million settlement to address claims filed in relation to defective Takata airbag inflators, according to court documents filed overnight.

Toyota will cover $403 million of the settlement, followed by BMW at $190 million, Mazda at $110 million and Subaru at $98 million, Reuters reports.

Lawsuits against other leading car makers Honda, Ford and Nissan are yet to be settled.

The four car makers – Toyota, BMW, Mazda and Subaru – said in a joint statement that they settled “given the size, scope and severity of the Takata recall,” but none have admitted fault.

At least 16 deaths and 180 injuries worldwide have been linked to the faulty airbag inflators, which can explode with excessive force and unleash shrapnel inside the cabin of the car. In most instances, the airbags ruptured in humid, high temperatures, and no incidents have been reported in New Zealand.

Reports of the incident led to the largest automotive recall worldwide, affecting 100 million vehicles.

In January, Takata pleaded guilty to criminal charges and paid out a $1.4 billion settlement. Searches for a buyer have stretched on for over a year, and last month, the company reported it was considering bankruptcy.

This latest settlement includes contacting owners who still have the faulty airbags, compensation for economic losses, residual payments, rental cars for some owners, and customer support for repairs.

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Pukekohe technician in world champs

Technician Ryan Grave from Winger Subaru Pukekohe has qualified for the Subaru World Technical Competition after a strong showing at the Oceania Technical Competition held in Sydney over March 15 and 16. The wold competition will be held in Tokyo this November.

Grave competed alongside nine technicians around Australia. The competition involved a written exam, a practical section based on car diagnostics and testing both on and off the car across the two days.

 “Ryan performed really well and managed to score the top result out of all competitors in a number of the 11 individual tests in the competition,” said Subaru New Zealand technical mervice manager Phil Hall, who advised Grave throughout the contest. “I’m excited to see how he goes in Japan.”

“I really enjoyed the whole experience, and given the high calibre of guys competing and the difficulty of the tests, I’m really happy with my performance,” said Grave.

“That being said I’ve got study to do over the next few months to make sure I am prepared for Japan. I can’t wait for that now and am massively looking forward to it.”

New Zealand has performed well on Subaru’s global stage in the past. In 2015, Steve Comber, of Taupo’s Morrell Motors, competed in Toyko and achieved second overall, beating big players like the USA, Australia and Japan.

Grave will continue training in the coming months to ensure he is ready to compete for the title of ‘World’s best Subaru technician’ in November.

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New WRX tribute car

Subaru has released a special tribute model to celebrate 25 years of the Subaru WRX in New Zealand. Based on a WRX Premium, the Black Edition WRX is limited to five cars.

Subaru of New Zealand Managing Director Wallis Dumper said the Black Edition pays homage to Subaru’s long rally history in New Zealand and acknowledges the changing market for the WRX. “In 1992, Subaru launched the iconic WRX model, and since then we’ve won several World Rally Championships,” he said. “This sharp-looking Black Edition celebrates both the WRX’s heritage and also its new direction as a refined… performance car.”

The Black Edition contains the WRX 2.0-litre Boxer engine, all-wheel drive, and the WRX Premium features, including rain-sensing wipers, sat nav, push button start with keyless entry and touchscreen infotainment.

The anniversary model also contains exclusive design features, including carbon fibre-style notes on the roof, door mirrors, rear spoiler and lower part of front grille, black WRX badges on the front guard and rear boot, black STi 18” alloy wheels, and tinted front windows.

The Black Edition WRX will go on sale at $57,490. Two cars will go on sale this month at authorised dealerships in Auckland, while selected Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch dealers will receive one model each.

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