Subaru set to post '08 sales increase

Subaru, one of the few bright spots in the auto industry this year, says that it will buck industry trends and post a small sales increase over 2008 sales when it reports final figures after the new year. Subaru's year-to-date sales were up 1.2 percent at the end of November, compared to an overall industry that was down more than 16 percent in the same period.

"We are settled mostly in niches, and our customer is better financially heeled than other car customers - we have good demographics," Subaru's executive vice president, Tom Doll, told Automotive News.

Subaru isn't gaining sales by deeply discounting its products, either. Unlike many automakers, its lowest finance rates are 3.9 percent and its average incentive spending is just $1,600 per vehicle - significantly below most automakers at the moment.

Three of Subaru's models are posting sales gains over last year's figures: The redesigned Forester is up 33.8 percent, the Impreza was up 9.6 percent and even the Legacy - Subaru's oldest model - has seen a 9 percent increase in sales over last year's figure. Legacy is up for a redesign for 2010.