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Direction of next rally-bred Subaru to be decided in Japan as Senior heads to talks
27 February 2012
SUBARU Australia managing director Nick Senior will travel to Japan this week to take part in talks over what the next incarnation of the brand’s rally-bred, high-performance WRX and STI products will be like when they arrive in around 18 months’ time.
Mr Senior will join delegates from some of Subaru’s international markets to discuss whether the next-generation WRX and STI will continue with the formula of “a quite hard edge in terms of style, design and performance” or become a more “European sports sedan in the mould of M series or AMG”.
The next WRX and STI will be distanced from the standard Impreza sedan and hatch that were launched in Australia last week, as was initiated when Impreza branding was dropped from the updated wide-body WRX in September 2010 and with the new separately-branded XV crossover that arrived here in January.
Although Subaru has considered further distancing the WRX and STI from the Impreza sedan and hatch by developing a variant that would have a similar relationship with the Impreza as the Volkswagen Scirocco does with the Golf, Mr Senior said he and the factory were not keen on losing the versatility of the sedan and hatch body styles.
“The factory has given the indication that they do not want to lose the edge that the WRX and STI have been associated with and established over the last 18 years,” he said.
“That (two-door scenario) may well be possible, although you do lose potential volume … competitors like the Nissan 200SX come and go because they don’t have that versatility in terms of the four and five-door layout.”
On the subject of Australia’s influence in Subaru product planning meetings, Mr Senior said: “We can put in our 10 cents’ worth … but we have got to recognise our station in life and we are the fourth-biggest market behind the US, Japan and China.”
Asked of his preferred outcome, Mr Senior said he would like Subaru to continue with the WRX/STI formula it has had so much success with over the years and said a final decision would be made “in the very near future”.
“I do love that we do have the four and five-door variants and I would like that to continue.
“I think the other thing is they are iconic names and have established a reputation, and to keep that edge is very important, to have that edginess about them.
“We have sold more than 25,000 WRX (in Australia) since 1994 so it is an extremely popular and much-loved vehicle.”
In contradiction to previous reports, Mr Senior said the FB-series ‘boxer’ engine, which debuted in last year’s updated Forester SUV and now exclusively powers the new Impreza line-up in 2.0-litre form, is suitable for turbocharging, meaning its efficiency gains will not be lost if applied to a high-performance vehicle.
He also said that, because the company has developed a version of its Lineartronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) to cope with the torque of diesel engines – meaning automatic diesel Subarus are on the horizon – the next step is to apply the transmission to high-performance vehicles.
The current WRX and STI, which will continue to be sold alongside the new fourth-generation Impreza until their replacements arrive, continue to be counted among the Impreza’s sales by VFACTS.
Mr Senior said combining WRX and STI sales figures with those of the new Impreza in VFACTS will slightly muddy the waters as a large proportion (roughly 170 units of the Impreza’s average 966 monthly sales) will be attributed to an older model.
He said once the new WRX and STI hit the market they are likely to join the rear-drive BRZ coupe in the sportscar VFACTS category and listed under a separate model name for the first time.
After GoAuto expressed disappointment to Mr Senior over the new Impreza’s slower than expected acceleration (10.5 seconds for the manual and 11.5 seconds for the CVT automatic) at the launch in South Australia last week, he said the 2.0-litre models were more about efficiency than performance.
However, Mr Senior said he hoped a higher-performance model would form a spiritual successor to the sporty Impreza RS that was sold in Australia between 2003 and 2005, to form a flagship variant that sits below the WRX.
Not to be confused with the RS variant that shared the same 2.0-litre naturally aspirated engine as the rest of the Impreza line-up, Mr Senior suggested a reborn RS could use a derivative of the Forester’s 126kW/235Nm 2.5-litre petrol engine.
Asked whether Subaru’s diesel boxer engine is likely to make it under the bonnet of the Impreza, Mr Senior said it is not likely at this stage, especially given the fuel economy gains of up to 22 per cent made with the petrol version of the new model.
“Diesel is an SUV thing”, he said, citing the increased cost of diesel engines compared with petrol.
However, he did not completely rule it out, saying that if a suitable engine became available it would be considered for Australia.
It is a similar position to that taken by Honda in Australia, which recently announced it will be introducing a diesel variant of the British-built Civic hatch in 2013.
This is likely to be related to the existence of a powerful and highly efficient new 1.6-litre unit that will debut at Geneva next month and is set to replace the well-regarded 2.2-litre diesel used on several European-market Hondas.
Mr Senior said he expected Impreza volume to remain steady despite the arrival of the fourth-generation model.
This is largely due to pressure on the factory, which is operating at 100 per cent capacity and working hard to satisfy exceptionally high demand for the new XV, more than 650 of which were sold locally in the two weeks immediately following its launch last month.
CHERRY HILL, N.J., Feb. 1, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Led by remarkable sales for the all-new Impreza, Subaru of America, Inc. today reported record vehicle sales for January 2012 of 22,807 vehicles, a gain of 21% over January 2011. The impressive results for January follow a record year in 2011 that ended with 266,989 Subaru vehicles sold.
The all-new Impreza was up 175% in January and recorded the best month in its history. The Impreza is proving a hit with consumers due to its combination of 36mpg highway fuel economy, standard all-wheel drive and new styling.
Demand for the company’s Legacy and Outback models was also strong with both vehicles recording their best ever January.
Thomas J. Doll, executive vice president and COO, Subaru of America, Inc said; “This is a real break-through year for Subaru. Now that Impreza is reaching showrooms we can expect to see sales for this new model grow exponentially. Supported by solid sales from our other core models and with new models debuting this year we are very optimistic about our prospects for 2012.”
“It’s a great start to the year,” said Bill Cyphers, senior vice president of sales, Subaru of America, Inc. “With the momentum from 2011 carrying into 2012 we are well placed for success. The new BRZ sports car will reach showrooms next quarter and XV Crosstrek, our new small crossover will arrive in the fall, adding a new dimension to our product line-up.”
COS participated in a nationwide blackout yesterday to show our protests of SOPA.
We believe that this could adversely affect our community and many of those that we all partake in on a daily basis.
Please Contact your Representative.
- Rep. Steve Stivers– Phone:(202) 225-2015 –Fax:(202) 225-3529
- Sen. Sherrod Brown –Phone:(202) 224-2315 –Fax:(202) 228-6321
- Sen. Rob Portman –Phone:(202) 224-3353– Fax:(202) 224-9558
I am writing to you as a voter in your district. I urge you to vote “no” on cloture for S. 968, the PROTECT IP Act, on Jan. 24th. The PROTECT IP Act is dangerous, ineffective, and short-sighted. It does not deserve floor consideration. I urge my representative to vote “no” on SOPA, the corresponding House bill.
Over coming days you’ll be hearing from the many businesses, advocacy organizations, and ordinary Americans who oppose this legislation because of the myriad ways in which it will stifle free speech and innovation. We hope you’ll take our concerns to heart and oppose this legislation by voting “no” on cloture.
For more reading on what SOPA is, please continue on with this article From Gizmodo.Com
This Article is ©GIZMODO.com
What Is SOPA?
If you hadn’t heard of SOPA before, you probably have by now: Some of the internet’s most influential sites—Reddit and Wikipedia among them—are going dark to protest the much-maligned anti-piracy bill. But other than being a very bad thing, what is SOPA? And what will it mean for you if it passes?
SOPA is an anti-piracy bill working its way through Congress…
House Judiciary Committee Chair and Texas Republican Lamar Smith, along with 12 co-sponsors, introduced the Stop Online Piracy Act on October 26th of last year. Debate on H.R. 3261, as it’s formally known, has consisted of one hearing on November 16th and a “mark-up period” on December 15th, which was designed to make the bill more agreeable to both parties. Its counterpart in the Senate is the Protect IP Act (S. 968). Also known by its cuter-but-still-deadly name: PIPA. There will likely be a vote on PIPA next Wednesday; SOPA discussions had been placed on hold but will resume in February of this year.
…that would grant content creators extraordinary power over the internet…
The beating heart of SOPA is the ability of intellectual property owners (read: movie studios and record labels) to effectively pull the plug on foreign sites against whom they have a copyright claim. If Warner Bros., for example, says that a site in Italy is torrenting a copy of The Dark Knight, the studio could demand that Google remove that site from its search results, that PayPal no longer accept payments to or from that site, that ad services pull all ads and finances from it, and—most dangerously—that the site’s ISP prevent people from even going there.
…which would go almost comedically unchecked…
Perhaps the most galling thing about SOPA in its original construction is that it let IP owners take these actions without a single court appearance or judicial sign-off. All it required was a single letter claiming a “good faith belief” that the target site has infringed on its content. Once Google or PayPal or whoever received the quarantine notice, they would have five days to either abide or to challenge the claim in court. Rights holders still have the power to request that kind of blockade, but in the most recent version of the bill the five day window has softened, and companies now would need the court’s permission.
The language in SOPA implies that it’s aimed squarely at foreign offenders; that’s why it focuses on cutting off sources of funding and traffic (generally US-based) rather than directly attacking a targeted site (which is outside of US legal jurisdiction) directly. But that’s just part of it.
…to the point of potentially creating an “Internet Blacklist”…
Here’s the other thing: Payment processors or content providers like Visa or YouTube don’t even need a letter shut off a site’s resources. The bill’s “vigilante” provision gives broad immunity to any provider who proactively shutters sites it considers to be infringers. Which means the MPAA just needs to publicize one list of infringing sites to get those sites blacklisted from the internet.
Potential for abuse is rampant. As Public Knowledge points out, Google could easily take it upon itself to delist every viral video site on the internet with a “good faith belief” that they’re hosting copyrighted material. Leaving YouTube as the only major video portal. Comcast (an ISP) owns NBC (a content provider). Think they might have an interest in shuttering some rival domains? Under SOPA, they can do it without even asking for permission.
…while exacting a huge cost from nearly every site you use daily…
SOPA also includes an “anti-circumvention” clause, which holds that telling people how to work around SOPA is nearly as bad as violating its main provisions. In other words: if your status update links to The Pirate Bay, Facebook would be legally obligated to remove it. Ditto tweets, YouTube videos, Tumblr or WordPress posts, or sites indexed by Google. And if Google, Twitter, WordPress, Facebook, etc. let it stand? They face a government “enjoinment.” They could and would be shut down.
The resources it would take to self-police are monumental for established companies, and unattainable for start-ups. SOPA would censor every online social outlet you have, and prevent new ones from emerging.
…and potentially disappearing your entire digital life…
The party line on SOPA is that it only affects seedy off-shore torrent sites. That’s false. As the big legal brains at Bricoleur point out, the potential collateral damage is huge. And it’s you. Because while Facebook and Twitter have the financial wherewithal to stave off anti-circumvention shut down notices, the smaller sites you use to store your photos, your videos, and your thoughts may not. If the government decides any part of that site infringes on copyright and proves it in court? Poof. Your digital life is gone, and you can’t get it back.
…while still managing to be both unnecessary and ineffective…
What’s saddest about SOPA is that it’s pointless on two fronts. In the US, the MPAA, and RIAA already have the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to request that infringing material be taken down. We’ve all seen enough “video removed” messages to know that it works just fine.
As for the foreign operators, you might as well be throwing darts at a tse-tse fly. The poster child of overseas torrenting, Pirate Bay, has made it perfectly clear that they’re not frightened in the least. And why should they be? Its proprietors have successfully evaded any technological attempt to shut them down so far. Its advertising partners aren’t US-based, so they can’t be choked out. But more important than Pirate Bay itself is the idea of Pirate Bay, and the hundreds or thousands of sites like it, as populous and resilient as mushrooms in a marsh. Forget the question of should SOPA succeed. It’s incredibly unlikely that it could. At least at its stated goals.
…but stands a shockingly good chance of passing…
SOPA is, objectively, an unfeasible trainwreck of a bill, one that willfully misunderstands the nature of the internet and portends huge financial and cultural losses. The White House has come out strongly against it. As have hundreds of venture capitalists and dozens of the men and women who helped build the internet in the first place. In spite of all this, companies have already spent a lot of money pushing SOPA, and it remains popular in the House of Representatives.
That mark-up period on December 15th, the one that was supposed to transform the bill into something more manageable? Useless. Twenty sanity-fueled amendments were flat-out rejected. And while the bill’s most controversial provision—mandatory DNS filtering—was thankfully taken off the table recently, in practice internet providers would almost certainly still use DNS as a tool to shut an accused site down.
…unless we do something about it.
The momentum behind the anti-SOPA movement has been slow to build, but we’re finally at a saturation point. Wikipedia, BoingBoing, WordPress, TwitPic: they’ll all be dark on January 18th. An anti-SOPA rally has been planned for tomorrow afternoon in New York. The list of companies supporting SOPA is long but shrinking, thanks in no small part to the emails and phone calls they’ve received in the last few months.