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Discussion Starter #21
Subaru is a small player in the automotive sector. BMW produces many times as many vehicles as Subaru with probably an even higher revenue discrepancy, i would expect them to have more offerings and wider availability.

I imagine the european market has some favorable conditions for it and the american market does not. Sounds like you've been keeping an eye on it, how long has it been available there - maybe Subaru will come around to test it some day here?

I would guess most Subaru owners are not going to buy it if it became an option and Subaru thinks the same thing. Americans that want carrying, vacation, and family capacity buy Ford Expeditions, not Subarus.

I like the idea, I'll play with all things Subaru and have thoroughly preferred and enjoyed their past air ride systems. I have generally owned one (or a few) at any given time with air suspension for 20 years. The ride great but they have a lot of parts to them and are testing when it comes to maintenance and reliability. Few people have the experience and familiarity for that. But i'm not surprised if it never happens in the US.
They sell over 100k Outbacks per year in the US; Subaru as a whole apparently outsells VW as well (Someone else said this a while ago and I researched it... surprisingly seems to be true). So they're not as small a company as you might think. Also, as the size of the Outback grows, its potential utility increases as well, to the point where it makes more sense now than it ever did to have some sort of load-leveling option, particularly with the H6 engine. Maybe the CVT is weak, and they're worried about us 'mericans overheating the transmission (a weak spot with the previous automatic/H6), but an auxiliary transmission cooler is an easy solution for that (make it part of a tow package).

I would think they could pretty safely adapt the already-engineered Nivomat shocks for the EU to work with the increased ride height of the US car. I've had Bilstein custom-valve shocks for me in the past. It's not like it's a huge engineering feat to adapt this product to work with the US configuration.

As a company that still has a 'niche' reputation (even while striving for more mass appeal), I would think adapting the Nivomat solution to both the Outback and the Forrester would make a lot of sense. As a package, they could offer the load-leveling shocks, transmission cooler, tow bar and wiring as a $1,200 option and turn a small profit, while expanding the appeal of the car (Forrester too).
 

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They sell over 100k Outbacks per year in the US; Subaru as a whole apparently outsells VW as well (Someone else said this a while ago and I researched it... surprisingly seems to be true). So they're not as small a company as you might think. Also, as the size of the Outback grows, its potential utility increases as well, to the point where it makes more sense now than it ever did to have some sort of load-leveling option, particularly with the H6 engine. Maybe the CVT is weak, and they're worried about us 'mericans overheating the transmission (a weak spot with the previous automatic/H6), but an auxiliary transmission cooler is an easy solution for that (make it part of a tow package).

I would think they could pretty safely adapt the already-engineered Nivomat shocks for the EU to work with the increased ride height of the US car. I've had Bilstein custom-valve shocks for me in the past. It's not like it's a huge engineering feat to adapt this product to work with the US configuration.

As a company that still has a 'niche' reputation (even while striving for more mass appeal), I would think adapting the Nivomat solution to both the Outback and the Forrester would make a lot of sense.
You guys are missing something here. Subarus are sold new for a whole lot more in the EU than in the US. Subaru is successful here in the US because they have mastered the value vs price game and have found a balance that people like and pay for. The leveling systems even if offered as an option would never be purchased intentionally on a scale that would justify it.

By the way VW and its holdings was almost the largest Auto maker in the World just a few years ago regarding vehicles built and sold. So no Subaru is no where close and yes Subaru is puny with Tesla likely being the next smallest maker today.
 

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Subaru is right as they're making money. You're right, because if Subaru wanted it, marketed it, and leveraged - they are no doubt missing some options that could pay off or break even and add value in other non-monetary ways. (like a dumb AUX-IN come on Subaru you're so slow on this!!!!) In the end they're the only ones that stand something to loose.

If it was a viable market, someone would probably step up and offer a solution, it's done routinely.

BMW produced 2 million cars and Subaru 700,000.

This isn't a new discussion - diesel engine, turbo engine, smaller engine, dual range transmissions, models, etc. Subaru is making choices all the time about what to offer and where, they probably have a decent bead on which metrics to look at.
 

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Discussion Starter #24
VW of America sold 407,704 vehicles in 2013

BMW Group US (includes Mini) sold 375,782 vehicles in 2013

Tesla sold 22,450 vehicles GLOBALLY in 2013, a bit under 20,000 in the US.

Subaru USA sold 424,683 vehicles in 2013

Subarus are priced lower than BMW and most VWs, because Subaru realizes greater economies of scale through few models with fewer build iterations. That's why we can't have a white Outback with a black interior, and options are packaged in groups, etc.

Nonetheless, given Subaru's sales volume per model (i.e. far fewer model offerings and permutations than BMW or VW), offering something like Nivomat rear shocks that are compatible with US spring heights and rates is easily within the realm of 'financially feasible'.

Subaru is not a 'tiny little company the size of Tesla'. They have the resources, and this is not some sort of a 'I want a turbo diesel hybrid manual hi/low range 4x4 with locking hubs and PTO' type of 'wish'. It's a matter of better supporting the level of practicality and performance they advertise they provide.

I'm sure it's a great car as-is for many people. I don't think hoping for slightly modified already-engineered EU self-leveling shocks is really pushing the envelope in any way.

(Given their sales figures, there's no excuse for not offering a simple-as-potatoes AUX IN jack!)
 

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You guys are missing something here. Subarus are sold new for a whole lot more in the EU than in the US.
What car doesn't sell for more in Europe than it does here in the US? New vehicles sell for a more in Canada too.

That's why we can't have a white Outback with a black interior, and options are packaged in groups, etc.
This combo of white exterior with either a dark grey or black leather interior is what we're hoping becomes available for '15....
 

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Nivomats are still $400+ each novelties. . . and when they fail, your ass is draggin'. Seems to be a few folks with Nivomat-equipped Subies wanting to do just the opposite (reason: replacement cost)

http://www.subaruforester.org/vbulletin/f70/leaking-shock-self-leveling-suspension-77337/

http://www.subaruforester.org/vbulletin/f70/06-ll-bean-self-leveling-suspension-swap-64352/

Having never driven a car equipped with them, I have no opinion on how they ride versus conventional gas dampers. My spidey senses say "probably not as good".

This seems like something better addressed by an aftermarket company. Seems like if enough people wanted it, someone would have filled that niche. Perhaps it could be you, Sarge!

Go forth and sell Nivomats for Subaru and make your fortune :)
 

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Sarge - have you looked into what kind of loads the EU Subaru system is capable of? Not all self leveling systems are the same. The two self leveling air suspension systems that Subaru has had in the past were not up to heavy loads - they would sag and can't hold as much weight as their conventional spring counterparts. They performed excellently for daily driver use, better than conventional IMO, can last a long time (there's no exposed strut rod), but are not up to holding up heavy loads, they'll sag more than conventional struts on the same vehicle with about 500 pounds in the rear.
 

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Discussion Starter #29
Sarge - have you looked into what kind of loads the EU Subaru system is capable of? Not all self leveling systems are the same. The two self leveling air suspension systems that Subaru has had in the past were not up to heavy loads - they would sag and can't hold as much weight as their conventional spring counterparts. They performed excellently for daily driver use, better than conventional IMO, can last a long time (there's no exposed strut rod), but are not up to holding up heavy loads, they'll sag more than conventional struts on the same vehicle with about 500 pounds in the rear.
The EU/OZ rating is 4,000 lbs with trailer brakes, and a 330 lbs tongue weight, vs 3,000 lbs and 200 lbs for the US car.
 

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Discussion Starter #30
Agree 100%. Subie is just not the right car for your needs.
Why is it unreasonable to want self-leveling shocks on a mid-size utility vehicle? That's a pretty common setup. It's not like I'm asking for a suede headliner and full air suspension, like my allroad. Subaru already offers the Nivomat shocks in the rest of the world. What on earth is so unreasonable about wanting shocks that increase the utility vehicle's utility???
 

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This seems like something better addressed by an aftermarket company. Seems like if enough people wanted it, someone would have filled that niche. Perhaps it could be you, Sarge!

Go forth and sell Nivomats for Subaru and make your fortune :)
Ah there it is. lockmedic gets the Voice of Reason™ award for the thread.

I wouldn't be surprised if there's a way to work out the part number and find USA distribution for the things.
 

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What on earth is so unreasonable about wanting shocks that increase the utility vehicle's utility???
Apparently the price.

The 05-08 LL Bean Forester (yes, USDM) had rear SLS (nivomat-style). Prices below are replacement strut assy's for SLS and non SLS-Fozzies.

Strut, L.L. Bean, From 4-1-05 Left
STRUT CP REAR LH - 2006-08
REAR SUSPENSION »Struts & components
Subaru › Forester › 2007
List Price : $399.96
Your Price : $341.56

Strut, X, XS Left
STRUT CP R LH - 2006-08
REAR SUSPENSION »Struts & components
Subaru › Forester › 2007-2008
List Price : $169.95
Your Price : $124.40

Nearly 3x more for the Nivomats. Subaru owners are a frugal bunch. Let's not forget one of Subaru's old slogans was "inexpensive, and built to stay that way".
 

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I have to agree.

I'm not privy to Subaru's marketing data but I have a hard time imagining so many people wanting this capability that it became a factory option. So many Outbacks are used as single-seat commuters.

Regarding their usage in other markets- Subarus are not sold as inexpensive 4x4 runabouts elsewhere! In Europe they're seen as a weird cross of exotic car and farm equipment. They're rare and very expensive, once you get through the exchange rates.

All carmakers do something like this. You make a car. When you sell it near where you make it (home market) you get all kinds of cost efficiencies, so you can compete on numbers and sell them on value. When you sell them far from where they're made, you gussy them up with every possible doo-dad and market them as luxury cars. You'll never compete on price, so you go for features instead.

This is why Mercedes & BMWs are cheap town taxis in Germany and only the fanciest ones get sent to the USA.
 

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Also just so you can get a sense the self leveling stuff even in the Truck market is a very very very small % of the trucks sold. Given #1 reason being cost, reliability/durability and need.

Dodge uses an air ride system with very durable air bags on its 1500's which are independent suspension rigs designed to tow up to 10,000lbs yet their primary target customer is a private owner and typically not a work truck type. The design is intended to provide superior handling and ride conditions when not loaded enabling the truck to work well for every day use and the air bag system allows for the RV, and toy hauling capability. These trucks sell for 50+K!!!!

Ford out sells everyone with the F150 and no they do not sell self leveling on the typical trucks they sell in large numbers given its not wanted, not needed and the buyers do not want to deal with the system.
 

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Nivomats can be found on few wagons/suvs/minivan platforms like

Caravan
Magnum
Tahoe
Volvo wagons
Focus Wagon

Monroe has started making Nivomats replacements. So that should help drive down replacement costs.
 

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Discussion Starter #36
Nivomats can be found on few wagons/suvs/minivan platforms like

Caravan
Magnum
Tahoe
Volvo wagons
Focus Wagon

Monroe has started making Nivomats replacements. So that should help drive down replacement costs.
Monroe makes self-leveling shocks for a lot of applications, just never for the Outback that I'm aware of. Maybe that will change as the Outback continues to make market gains...
 

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Discussion Starter #37
Subaru is a small player in the automotive sector. BMW produces many times as many vehicles as Subaru with probably an even higher revenue discrepancy, i would expect them to have more offerings and wider availability.

I imagine the european market has some favorable conditions for it and the american market does not. Sounds like you've been keeping an eye on it, how long has it been available there - maybe Subaru will come around to test it some day here?

I would guess most Subaru owners are not going to buy it if it became an option and Subaru thinks the same thing. Americans that want carrying, vacation, and family capacity buy Ford Expeditions, not Subarus.

I like the idea, I'll play with all things Subaru and have thoroughly preferred and enjoyed their past air ride systems. I have generally owned one (or a few) at any given time with air suspension for 20 years. The ride great but they have a lot of parts to them and are testing when it comes to maintenance and reliability. Few people have the experience and familiarity for that. But i'm not surprised if it never happens in the US.
They offer it in europe in part because such systems are generally more common on cars over there, because europeans use cars for towing instead of trucks (although they are falling into the CUV trap these days more and more).

In europe there are much more stringent laws around towing. You cannot exceed 55 mph anywhere that I know of (or 100 kph on the continent), and all trailers must have trailer brakes. Not so here in the US, which is part of why every manufacturer has lower tow ratings. The higher speeds we tow at, and the lack of trailer brake laws for smaller trailers, mean it's not safe to rate teh cars as high.

The trailer brake part is an obvious 'why'. What most people don't realize is that the speed aspect isn't just about safety, but mechanical durability. In Subaru's case, the previous Gen 4 H6 with the 5 speed automatic was somewhat easily overstressed when trying to tow on inclines at say 75 mph, and doing so would substantially shorten the life of the transmission, and eventually blow it up, due, I guess, to insufficient cooling among other things (metal fatigue in the gearbox, etc).

If you read the owner's manual on those cars, it states different 'speed limitations' for towing at various loads under different conditions (something to that effect, it's been years since I researched it).

I'm not sure if the CVT is stronger or weaker than the outgoing AT5, so that's a question that needs answering.

All the same, even if I can't use the car for towing, I've never had a car without load leveling that I liked when it was loaded up for a big trip, so even if the trailer towing capacity is low, there's still the issue of a fully loaded car being driven to points unknown at high speeds on all manner of roads throughout the mountain west. I would still want some kind of load leveling if possible.
 

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Cool, thanks for sharing, good info on EU market differences.

Find a forester in the US that has it and test drive it with 8 people in the back or test drive on in Europe? I wouldn't automatically expect that suspension to be stellar given their low key approach to OBW handling in general.
 

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Euro folks drive shorter distances, have much longer vacations and pack more into smaller cars. I can tell you that the 2010 OB actually handles better when loaded. No really it does regarding road trips.

Also trailer towing in the US is so lax anyone can tow one and any given day you can watch them bomb down the highway at 80mph in the fast lane with trailer in tow oblivious to the laws and rarely do our highway enforcement ever stop them.

I was stopped once when I jumped over to the 3rd lane in heavy traffic to avoid heavy traffic aggressively merging onto an LA highway. The car I moved over infront of was a CA CHP. He stopped me and asked me if I knew the law I explained it to him and then he told me getting over to avoid what was nearly an accident shortly after I got over was a smart move and allowed and sent me on my way.

However the idiots who bomb down I-5 in the fast lane and HOV lanes towing trailers deserve a big fat ticket.
 
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