If you are an Asian automaker, you have an automatic edge in the U.S. market, right? Well, no. Given that the local market is a highly competitive one, the smaller makes often have a tough time making a go of it. Asian brands such as Toyota, Nissan, Hyundai and Honda are strong as are the three big U.S. makes, tough competitors for the smallest brands.. Read on for a review of four, small Asian automakers that have seen its American fortunes run out.
1. Daihatsu. From the 1980s to 1993, Daihatsu models were sold in the U.S.A. This manufacturer of small Japanese cars might have made a go of it, but it was clearly unable to find its footing among bigger players. A small dealer network was not able to sell more than 16,000 vehicles in any year, plus the Japanese government limited exports in the face of U.S. pressure.
2. Isuzu. One of the most promising upstart Japanese automakers was Isuzu, a brand that was best known for its compact trucks and diesel engines. At its zenith in the 1980s, Isuzu sold more than 125,000 vehicles in one year reports Automotive News, a number that gradually shrunk. Eventually, Isuzu quit building its own vehicles, selling rebadged GM products. Without a unique model, customer interest disappeared and so did the brand.
3. Suzuki. Although its sales number topped 100,000 units once, Suzuki is a far larger player than most people realize. Especially in Asia. The company sells more than 2.7 million vehicles annually, but it has struggled to maintain its footing in North America. A lack of new models and weak product differentiation has hurt this company. Also, with no North American automotive plant, cars must be imported from Japan where transport costs and a strong yen are profit killers.
4. Daewoo. The lone Korean make on this list is Daewoo, a company that couldn’t maintain a viable presence in the U.S. Its tenure was a short one, but it was its bland, even polarizing body styles that hurt this company the most. Another factor was its bankruptcy, with General Motors jumping in and buying its assets for a fire sale price. Although the Daewoo brand has given way to Chevrolet, one product is sold by stateside by GM today: the Chevrolet Sonic, formerly the Aveo.
A handful of other brands are also at risk of eventually exiting the U.S. market. Mitsubishi, once a supplier of vehicles for Chrysler, has seen it sales fall to 14 percent of its 2002 highs. Mazda, which had partnered with Ford to build a number of small- and medium-sized vehicles, is struggling to stay relevant and is banking its future on new models including the 2014 Mazda6. Subaru may buck the trend of small, Asian automakers that have left the market, as Toyota has snapped up a share of Fuji Heavy Industries its parent company. That arrangement has yielded its first product too: the ultra-hot Subaru BRZ sport coupe.