Even though it is the last remaining Japanese brand not selling a subcompact in the U.S.,Heavy Industries Ltd.'s Subaru won't be jumping on the B-car bandwagon anytime soon.
“The thing with the B-sector is you have to ask how you make money at the lower levels,” Michael McHale, Subaru of America Inc. spokesman, tells Ward's. “You look at the pricing on the B segment — it's a tough segment to make money.”
Subcompacts begin at just under $10,000 in the U.S. for a bare-bones model. More well-appointed grades typically start in the $14,000-$15,000 range.
The U.S. subcompact segment was revived a few years ago when the Big Three Japanese brands, anticipating increasing gas prices and a resulting movement by Americans toward small cars, re-entered the sector.
Toyota Motor Corp.'s Yaris,Motor Co. Ltd.'s Fit and Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.'s Versa all went on sale in the U.S. in 2006, joining Co.'s Chevrolet Aveo, Motor Co. Ltd.'s Accent and Kia Motor Corp.'s Rio.
Motor Corp. is bringing its Mazda2 to the U.S. next year, while Motor Co. will begin retailing the Fiesta.
The two lowest-volume Japanese brands selling in the U.S.,and , have plans for a U.S. B-car.
Subaru-makerretails several subcompact vehicles outside the U.S. and once played in the sector in the U.S. in the 1980s and 1990s with its Justy model, still offered in other markets.