Bitter rivalries are a hallmark of the car business. Think Ford vs. Chevy, BMW vs. Mercedes-Benz, and Cadillac vs. Lincoln. Battles are fought over tenths of market share. But the one that industry observers will be studying for years is the tectonic shift that has characterized Mazda vs. Subaru.
Go back to 1991. Mazda was still riding the crest of the Miata’s popularity and sold 343,612 cars. Subaru was barely a blot on the horizon, one-third the size of Mazda. The first Outback was still four years away and only 105,052 Subies found owners.
As recently as 2008, Mazda was still outselling Subaru, but by a much narrower margin, and its run had come to an end. While Subaru kicked it up a gear, Mazda idled in neutral. Last year, Subaru capped its sixth year of record sales by trouncing Mazda by more than 200,000 vehicles, 513,693 to 305,801.
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