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Subaru shortage

A late call on a new Impreza sedan could have cost Subaru Australia another showroom record this year.

The new Impreza hatch has just landed, with more models on the way, but short supplies from Japan will limit the number of cars Subaru can deliver to the end of the year.

The sedan will boost Impreza sales by about 200 cars a month, from a hatch estimate of 1000 cars a month. But it will not join the local line-up until the third quarter next year.

It is lagging behind the hatch because the car was originally developed for the US and it took time for Australia to make a business case.

Before then, Subaru will also have a facelifted Tribeca people mover, a new Forester and the high-performance Impreza STi. An Impreza diesel is also on the way.

So the head of Subaru Australia, Nick Senior, believes he will not have enough cars to claw back lost ground this year.

Sales are up but the 3 per cent improvement trails in an industry that has grown by more than 9 per cent to the end of August.

“We'll struggle to do another record this year, to be honest. We cannot get enough cars,” Senior says. “There is simply not enough time. We're expecting some solid months to the end of the year, but we won't claw it all back.”

He believes the safer new Impreza will be a hit but admits the plan has changed following the late development of the four-door sedan.

“The intention with the new Impreza was to have one variation globally and that was the hatch,” he says. “Relatively late, the US decided that to maximise the potential of the car in their market they would like a sedan.

“When the decision was made to build a sedan for the US we were asked if we had an interest, so we researched the potential. We thought we could add some incremental sales, but the timing meant we would have to wait 12 months.

“There will only be the North American market and Australia having both hatch and sedan. But in the past we've had a foot in both camps, with half a wagon and half a hatch.”

He believes Australian buyers could take up to 350 sedans a month but, with some hatch substitution, is aiming for total Impreza sales of about 1200 cars. That would make it the company's No.1, ahead of the chunky Forester.

But that could change with the arrival of the new Forester early next year.