Facing a limited supply of the new BRZ sports car, Subaru Australia breaks new ground by only selling the vehicle online – and clears its inventory of 149 units in just three hours.

Media reports say sales initially got off to a slow start as the Subaru website struggled when Internet traffic quadrupled.

The auto maker says the move to online sales merely was meant to ensure a premium customer experience, but the number of dealerships wanting the sports car exceeded supply. Selling on the Internet meant all 105 Subaru retailers were treated the same.

Subaru Australia this year was allocated only 201 BRZs, which are produced in Japan. It sold 50 to dealers as demonstrator models, and two were lost in crash tests. This left just 149 units for the market.

“We knew that we wouldn’t have sufficient BRZs to supply our entire network immediately following the launch,” Subaru Australia Managing Director Nick Senior says in a statement.

The BRZ was sold at a nationwide driveaway price starting at A$37,150 ($37,961). Purchase contracts were completed entirely online, and the price included a 3-year/ 37,500-mile (60,000-km) scheduled service plan.

Senior says the online initiative offered a “fantastic” level of transparency, telling BRZ customers about the exact price and vehicle availability. They could choose their delivering dealership and even arrange a trade-in valuation.

“This may well be a world first in terms of being able to complete the entire new-car purchase process online,” he says.

Subaru’s research indicates few if any prospective BRZ customers would not have website access, Senior says, but any who did not could visit a dealership and be guided through the online process using an onsite computer.

The online-only purchase process will be reviewed in first-quarter 2013, when the next shipment of BRZs is due.