Japanese carmaker Subaru has announced a major reshuffle of its top management, with Atsushi Osaki taking the helm from the company’s current CEO, Tomomi Nakamura, while the brand’s US chief executive, Tom Doll, will step down and Jeff Walters will take his place as CEO of Subaru of America.
The brand best known for its Impreza, Crosstrek, and Forester models faces an uphill battle when it comes to electrification but says that flexibility and expansion will be the key focal points as it tries to catch up to rival automakers in the race to zero emissions.
“We at Subaru want to survive the age of electrification by being nimble,” new CEO Osaki said during a press conference, quoted by Automotive News. “We will put various systems in place while focusing on flexibility and expansion,” he added.
Subaru only makes one all-electric model as of March 2023, the Solterra, which has seen less than stellar sales figures, with the Japanese brand delivering 919 units last year in the United States (admittedly, though, sales started late, in November). So saying that Subaru needs a kick when it comes to electrification would be an understatement, especially considering that the Solterra is actually co-developed with Toyota, which sells the same car as the bZ4X.
With a total volume of 556,581 units delivered in 2022, Subaru is far off its record from 2019, when it managed to move 700,000 cars, so besides accelerating electrification efforts, the new management wants to grow the brand’s presence in the United States, which is its biggest market by far, and new markets such as Australia.
Subaru’s previous CEO, Tomomi Nakamura, who is known as an EV skeptic, often asked if demand for EVs was really that strong, especially in North America. But last year in May, the company acknowledged the growing interest in EVs worldwide and announced that it will make a dedicated EV assembly plant in Japan that will become operational around 2027, as well as a multibillion-dollar investment in electrification over the next five years.
Gallery: 2022 Subaru Solterra: First Drive
Additionally, the Japanese company said last month that it will expand its electrified range in the United States to include several EVs by 2025.
Current CEO Tomomi Nakamura will assume the role of chairman under the massive management reshuffle, while Subaru of America’s current CEO, Tom Doll, will step down and assume a role as a corporate advisor at the firm’s US headquarters in Camden, New Jersey, as of April 1. The new leader of the company’s American operations, Jeff Walters, will be promoted to president and COO from his current position as senior vice president of sales.
Subaru’s new global CEO, Atsushi Osaki, will take office in June, joining a refreshed board, pending approval at the annual shareholder meeting that’s usually held in June.
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Source: Subaru via Automotive News