U.S. auto market may take three years to rebound from COVID, says Subaru CEO

FILE PHOTO: Tomomi Nakamura, President of Subaru, speaks at the Tokyo Motor Show, in Tokyo, Japan October 23, 2019. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

TOKYO (Reuters) - U.S. auto sales may take three years to recover to pre-coronavirus pandemic levels even as sales continue to rebound from an April low, the CEO of Japanese carmaker Subaru Corp 7270.T said on Thursday.

“The feeling of Subaru America is that a return to the 17 million vehicle level could take two to three years,” Tomomi Nakamura said during a press roundtable in Tokyo.

In 2019 vehicle sales in the United States, which accounts for around two thirds of Subaru’s sales, rose to 17.3 million.

The maker of the Outback and Forester sport-utility vehicle crossovers will see likely see U.S. sales of around 600,000 this year compared to a forecast of 700,000 made before the coronavirus outbreak, Nakamura said.

That figure may grow to around 660,000 next year, he added.

Reporting by Maki Shiraki; writing by Tim Kelly Editing by Elaine Hardcastle