With no STI model, WRX sales figures have plummeted.
Subaru has released its sales figures for August 2022 and, despite the various challenges facing the automotive industry, the numbers are positive - for the most part, at least. Practical-minded models such as the Crosstrek and Outback put on an impressive showing, with the automaker shifting 15,126 and 10,928 units, respectively.
It's not all sweetness and light, though. Year-to-date figures for the WRX/STI models show a whopping 41.2% decline which could be attributed to several things, such as slow production and limited supply. But there's another possible reason for slowed sales - the WRX simply doesn't appeal to its key demographic anymore. Last month, the automaker sold a mere 2,304 examples of the WRX.
Admittedly, this is better than June's miserable figure, but this could spell disaster for the sports sedan. Remember, while the brand has made a name for itself by offering a range of affordable vehicles, it's better known for its rally endeavors and motorsport-inspired offerings such as the WRX STI.
In March, the company planted a slap on the face of its loyal fans. In a statement, the automaker said it is "exploring opportunities for the next-generation Subaru WRX STI, including electrification." And there's no point holding out hope for a final model; the future of performance models will likely be zero-emission vehicles that "meet the needs of the changing marketplace."
Looking at the aforementioned sales figures, Subaru may be regretting this decision. All brands need an aspiration model - an attention grabber, so to speak - that intrigues people and draws them into the showroom. While the WRX fills the roll of the halo model, it doesn't fill the large boots left behind by the WRX STI.
Interestingly, the brand's other sporty offering, the BRZ, was the slowest seller. Just 308 examples were liberated from showrooms in August. Many may argue that Subaru's sales will remain strong without either vehicle, but the company would do well to remember what happened to Mitsubishi.
Once close rivals on the world's rally stages, Mitsubishi elected to stop building exciting vehicles and focus on the mainstream market. Today, the company has a mostly underwhelming lineup that's outclassed by the competition.
This may not happen to Subaru, but it's worth mentioning. We're aware of the fact that we're tackling this from an enthusiast mindset, but it's enthusiasts who shoved the brand into the limelight. The WRX STI has become a cult classic - thanks to movies, motorsport, and gaming - and the least the brand could have done is build a swansong STI model. Perhaps that would have sold in the numbers Subaru was hoping for.
It's clear to see performance is playing second fiddle to everything else, as evidenced by something said by Subaru's SVP of sales. "We will continue to focus on meeting the high demand for our safe, reliable, and adventure-ready vehicles," noted Jeff Walters.