By Satoshi Sugiyama
TOKYO – Japan’s Subaru Corp expects strong demand from U.S. car buyers to continue, a senior executive said on Wednesday, amid growing concern about a slowdown in the world’s largest economy.
Chief Financial Officer Katsuyuki Mizuma’s confidence highlights the split between consumers struggling to afford basic necessities amid record inflation and those with the resources to continue spending on bigger-ticket purchases.
Last week Walmart sounded a clear warning about the health of the U.S. economy as its customers focus their spending on food and other essentials but skip items like clothes and sporting goods.
Subaru has a backorder of about 50,000 vehicles and retailers only have between 4 to 5 days worth of stock in the U.S., Mizuma said.
The automaker sold 19% more cars in the U.S. for the first quarter year-on-year, the biggest growth of any region. It expects U.S. sales to grow by around a quarter this fiscal year, to 636,000.
The maker of the Forester sports utility vehicle is not the only Japanese automaker to be relatively bullish on North America demand lately.
Mitsubishi Motors said it saw robust demand for new cars for the three months to June 30 and could not keep up with supply. Nissan Motor Co was also confident about its outlook in the United States and said the increase in sales volumes would offset negative factors such as inflation or higher interest rates.
(Reporting by Satoshi Sugiyama; editing by David Dolan and Elaine Hardcastle)