Fall in Love with Subaru All Over Again!


Tina Kourakos and Ron Lasman

Managers, National Commercial Fleet Account

We hear won­der­ful news about Sub­aru.

Ron: We have received great acco­lades this year. The lat­est being from Auto­mo­tive Lease Guide (ALG). We have been rat­ed the num­ber one man­u­fac­tur­er in pre­dict­ed resale val­ue by ALG for the third year in a row. Addi­tion­al­ly, this year, Con­sumer Reports has ranked Sub­aru the num­ber one man­u­fac­tur­er out of the top eigh­teen man­u­fac­tures sell­ing cars in the U.S. As a mat­ter a fact, all of our mod­els have received the top rat­ing by ALG, as well for the high­est pre­dict­ed resale val­ue.

Tina: And the Con­sumer Report award is based pri­mar­i­ly on reli­a­bil­i­ty and road­abil­i­ty so it just doesn’t get any bet­ter than that.

Let’s talk about Subaru’s most pop­u­lar fleet vehi­cles.

Tina: Our three most pop­u­lar fleet mod­els are the Lega­cy mid-sized sedan, the Forester small SUV and the Out­back mid-sized crossover. All have done very well in “pre­dict­ed resale val­ues” for many years in a row now. For the 2013 mod­el year, the Lega­cy and Out­back have both been refreshed inside and out­side. They have also received a new CVT trans­mis­sion and Box­er engine. With this com­bi­na­tion, came increased fuel econ­o­my. The Lega­cy is now get­ting 32 miles to the gal­lon high­way while the Out­back is get­ting 30 miles to the gal­lon high­way which is spec­tac­u­lar for a vehi­cle that size. The han­dling of both vehi­cles has great­ly improved. I know that it’s hard to believe, but once you dri­ve the 2013 mod­els, you fall in love with Sub­aru all over again.

Ron: Some peo­ple find it hard to believe that our all-wheel dri­ve mod­els, the Lega­cy sedan, the Out­back crossover and the Forester small SUV, get the same, or in some cas­es, bet­ter gas mileage than the competition’s two wheel dri­ve vehi­cles. This has been report­ed to us by some of our cus­tomers with actu­al dri­ver MPG expe­ri­ence.

Now does Sub­aru have any­thing yet in the hybrid line?

Tina: No hybrids yet. We will have our first hybrid lat­er next year.

Tell us how the order­ing process works for fleets.

Tina: The major­i­ty of our fleet cus­tomers order through their fleet man­age­ment com­pa­nies. We also have some cus­tomers that order through fleet-mind­ed Sub­aru deal­ers. Our order process is trans­par­ent to users and cus­tomers, like any oth­er man­u­fac­tur­er.

Fleets con­sid­er the total cost of own­er­ship when they are look­ing at vehi­cles. Sub­aru must have a very good sto­ry to tell.

Ron: As far as total cost of own­er­ship is con­cerned, this is some­thing Tina and I have been pro­mot­ing for a num­ber of years because we are both for­mer fleet man­agers and we cer­tain­ly under­stand the val­ue of the total cost of own­er­ship. With Sub­aru, the resale val­ue and mileage, which are the largest por­tions of total cost of own­er­ship, are fac­tors where Sub­aru excels. Our mileage keeps increas­ing every year and our resale val­ue, as we men­tioned, is tops. You just can’t beat our resale val­ue year in and year out. We are rat­ed the num­ber one man­u­fac­tur­er in pre­dict­ed resale val­ue. This is some­thing we under­stand as for­mer fleet man­agers and we con­tin­u­al­ly edu­cate fleet man­agers we call on so they can real­ly take a look at the val­ue they are receiv­ing with Sub­aru.

Let’s talk about the safe­ty aspects of all-wheel dri­ves.

Tina: Fleets used to con­sid­er all-wheel dri­ves pri­mar­i­ly for snow-belt and moun­tain­ous ter­ri­to­ries because every­body knows all-wheel dri­ve is good in snow and hilly ter­rain. But what they don’t real­ize is that all-wheel dri­ve is also a ben­e­fit to the dri­ver on dry pave­ment and rainy con­di­tions. With all- wheel dri­ve, when you stop at a light on a rainy day and then start up, your wheels will nev­er spin in a Sub­aru. That is a tremen­dous safe­ty advan­tage for Sub­aru dri­vers. We have seen an increased pres­ence in fleets because fleet man­agers are rec­og­niz­ing that the total cost of own­er­ship for Sub­aru is com­pa­ra­ble to the two wheel dri­ves that they are offer­ing. They are offer­ing Sub­aru across the entire coun­try instead of restrict­ing it to just to snow-belt areas. This has been very ben­e­fi­cial to our sales growth, the fleet man­ag­er and to dri­vers. Many times fleet man­agers spend too much time admin­is­ter­ing snow-belt eli­gi­bil­i­ty with too many dri­vers apply­ing for snow-belt excep­tions. All of that is elim­i­nat­ed when the fleet man­ag­er adds Sub­aru to their pri­ma­ry vehi­cle selec­tor.

Ron: We get cus­tomer let­ters all the time. And inter­est­ing­ly enough, we actu­al­ly get cus­tomer let­ters from Flori­da say­ing, “I have lived in Flori­da for twen­ty years and the Forester is the best vehi­cle I have ever dri­ven in the rain.”

What are some of the oth­er safe­ty fea­tures in the Sub­aru?

Tina: Sub­aru does not com­pro­mise on safe­ty. All safe­ty fea­tures, except back-up cam­eras, are stan­dard on all of our vehi­cles, even our base mod­els. We have a strong com­mit­ment to safe­ty and all of our vehi­cles have been the top safe­ty pick for many, many years. In fact, in 2010 when it became more dif­fi­cult to receive the IIHS best top safe­ty pick, Sub­aru was the only man­u­fac­tur­er to have been des­ig­nat­ed as the top safe­ty pick on five mod­els.

Sub­aru has intro­duced a new safe­ty fea­ture in the US called Eye­Sight. Its two cam­eras are mount­ed by the rearview mir­ror to mon­i­tor traf­fic and react to con­di­tions even before you do. Basi­cal­ly, Eye­Sight sees the prob­lem and ini­ti­ates action to help avoid the trou­ble. Eye­Sight will also sound an alert and flash a visu­al warn­ing if there’s dan­ger of a col­li­sion and will apply the brakes auto­mat­i­cal­ly if you don’t. Eye­sight also includes adap­tive cruise con­trol and warns dri­vers when they’re sway­ing out­side their lane.

Ron: As you prob­a­bly know, Sub­aru is the only man­u­fac­tur­er in the world that builds a Box­er engine with sym­met­ri­cal all-wheel dri­ve. We con­sid­er this com­bi­na­tion the ulti­mate in active safe­ty. It gives you bet­ter han­dling, bet­ter con­trol and a low­er cen­ter of grav­i­ty. In the end, you have the utmost in dri­vabil­i­ty and per­for­mance.

Tina: We also do very well with the NHTSA safe­ty rat­ings. To get a five star rat­ing in the rollover cat­e­go­ry, the vehi­cle must be a sedan. The Sub­aru Lega­cy and Impreza sedans are two of the few vehi­cles that have the five star roll over rat­ings.

Why wouldn’t any­body want a Sub­aru?

Ron: That’s a ‘hard’ ques­tion to answer, not an ‘easy’ one. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, in the cor­po­rate world today there are some com­pa­nies that are not fol­low­ing best prac­tices and are only inter­est­ed in the cap cost or upfront cost of the vehi­cles they are putting on their selec­tor list. Obvi­ous­ly, Tina and I believe, and try to con­vince accounts, that the total cost of own­er­ship is a more real­is­tic way to make vehi­cle deci­sions. How­ev­er, each com­pa­ny has their own agen­da as far as what fac­tors are most impor­tant in deter­min­ing vehi­cle offer­ings for their dri­vers.

Is cor­po­rate Amer­i­ca still con­cerned about Sub­aru as an import name­plate?

Tina: The issue of buy Amer­i­can ver­sus import seems to be declin­ing. We are a world econ­o­my. We do have a plant in Indi­ana and employ 3,300 Amer­i­cans at that plant, in addi­tion to oth­er Sub­aru employ­ees nation­wide. It is a dimin­ish­ing issue although it does arise occa­sion­al­ly. In select­ed cas­es, we have found there are peo­ple that want Sub­aru vehi­cles for very good rea­sons and will just wait until man­age­ment changes and then revis­it the issue.

Is there any­thing  you can share about upcom­ing mod­els?

Ron: We are com­ing out with an all new Forester. It is going to be a very ear­ly announce­ment. Ear­ly in spring, 2013, we will have the 2014 MY, all new Forester. We are very excit­ed about it, as it will have increased gas mileage among its many improved fea­tures. With the price of fuel sure­ly head­ing up again at some point, we are real­ly look­ing for­ward to, and are real­ly excit­ed about, our new Forester.

Tina: Sub­aru doesn’t share a whole lot of infor­ma­tion about future prod­uct but we can say the new Forester will be a lit­tle bit larg­er. As Ron men­tioned, it will get bet­ter fuel econ­o­my and it is going to look a lit­tle more aero­dy­nam­ic but you will still know it’s a Forester.


Tina Kourakos is Man­ag­er, Nation­al Com­mer­cial Fleet Accounts and reports to Charles R. Reed, Man­ag­er Nation­al Fleet Sales Oper­a­tions, Sub­aru of Amer­i­ca, Inc. Tina is respon­si­ble for expand­ing and ser­vic­ing the nation­al com­mer­cial fleet cus­tomer base for Sub­aru. Tina joined Sub­aru in 2006 and has 20 years’ expe­ri­ence in Fleet.

Pri­or to join­ing Sub­aru, Tina worked as Sr. Man­ag­er, Fleet & Safe­ty for Sanofi-Aven­tis Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and Assis­tant Direc­tor, Strate­gic Sourc­ing for CIGNA Cor­po­ra­tion.

[email protected]

Ron Las­man is Man­ag­er, Nation­al Com­mer­cial Fleet Accounts, and reports to Charles R. Reed, Man­ag­er Nation­al Fleet Sales Oper­a­tions, Sub­aru of Amer­i­ca, Inc. Ron is respon­si­ble for expand­ing and ser­vic­ing the nation­al com­mer­cial fleet cus­tomer base for Sub­aru. He joined Sub­aru in 2002 and has 35 years’ expe­ri­ence in Fleet.

Pri­or to join­ing Sub­aru, Ron worked as Direc­tor of Fleet Ser­vices for MEDIQ Incor­po­rat­ed and as Fleet Man­ag­er for Sears Clean­ing Ser­vices. Ron has also worked for ARI and Rollins Auto Leas­ing, as well as sev­er­al Philadel­phia auto deal­ers.

[email protected]



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