Suzuki continues line of small Asian automakers bowing out of U.S. market
LOS ANGELES -- American Suzuki's departure from the U.S. market makes it the fourth automotive brand from Asia unable to find sales and marketing success here.
Isuzu Motors, Daewoo Motor and Daihatsu Motor similarly struggled in the market and left.
Suzuki's inability to establish a foothold in the United States came from a too-small product lineup based on global platforms that didn't appeal to local buyers, an inability to overcome exchange rate hardships, and a lack of dedicated marketing funds to win customers from other brands.
|The American dream becomes a nightmare|
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But Suzuki's recipe for failure differed from those of Isuzu, Daewoo and Daihatsu.
Daewoo, the only Korean brand of the quartet, was almost stillborn in the United States. Its marriage of poor product quality and an ill-conceived initial retail plan to have college students sell the cars on campus doomed the brand to failure.
Even when it formed a retail network, its products often were sold through converted gasoline stations or used-car centers rather than by established auto dealers.
Isuzu should have survived and thrived in the United States. It sold SUVs in the thick of the SUV boom in the 1990s. But Isuzu's products were crude, unrefined and languished too long between updates. Although it produced several promising concept vehicles, the final versions didn't work for U.S. buyers. Similar to American Suzuki, the parent company was unwilling to spend the marketing funds to make Isuzu visible against Japanese rivals Toyota, Honda and Nissan.
Daihatsu was a victim of poor timing. Arriving amid the U.S.-Japan Voluntary Restraint Agreement against small cars made overseas, Daihatsu's sales were artificially limited here. The Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry held exports to 17,000 Daihatsu vehicles, dooming the automaker's chances in the United States.
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