Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Subie-do -- If there are any doubts that the regulatory landscape distorts the market for cars v. light-trucks, let Subaru's latest gambit put them to rest.

Subaru's going to jack the Outback sedan and wagon's height from 7.3" to 8.7" so that they will qualify as light trucks. As light trucks, Outback sales will not count against Subaru's obligation to have its car fleet average 27.5 mpg. Instead, Subaru's light truck fleet will have to average 21.2 mpg.

There's absolutely no market demand for a higher Outback. We're willing to bet the Downshift family hand-me-down Camry that no person in history has ever said, "You know, I'd really go for one of those Outback sedans, only its ground clearance is about an inch shy of what I find minimally acceptable."

The outcome is not so bad in this case. What it means is that Subaru will be able to put some more power across their whole, generally miserly line. This is not like DaimlerChrysler calling a PT Cruiser a truck so that it's woefully inefficient truck fleet can manage to make it's number.