Subaru’s parent company, Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI), plans a heavy assault on the global car market this year and expects global car sales to show a healthy increase.

Subaru’s parent company, Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI), plans a heavy assault on the global car market this year and expects its global car sales to show a healthy increase.

The company said it expects its global car sales to climb by 14,5 per cent this year. It predicts that the increase will be fuelled by strong minivehicle sales in Japan and Legacy sales in the United States.

The sales growth forecast of 623 000 vehicles follows a 1,9 per cent fall in 2003.

"We are going on a sales offensive this year," Subaru chief executive officer Kyoji Takenaka said, adding: "The sales goal is attainable."

FHI said it wants a 24 per cent (306 000 units) growth in domestic sales this year. Domestic minivehicle sales are expected to hit 40 per cent (186 000 units), thanks to strong sales of the Subaru R2 minivehicle launched in December.

The announcement followed an uninspiring performance last year when Subaru scored a tiny 1,0 per cent growth in global sales and a 5,2 per cent fall in domestic sales.

Last November, Subaru unveiled a 50 per cent fall in group operating profit for April to September, hit by a US price war and weak domestic sales of its Forester SUV and Impreza sports sedan.

Takenaka said FHI is also considering building a sales network in major Chinese cities, according to a news agency.