When the quarterly sales reports and corporate filings are released, the auto industry's news is full of the successes and failures. Lots of talk about how well or badly GM, Ford, Toyota, and the others are doing proliferates the press. Yet two companies are still plugging away at the U.S. market despite repeated, long-term abysmal sales figures.
The question is: why are they still bothering?
The two companies, of course, are Mitsubishi and Suzuki. Both make decent products and both are competing in markets where sales figures are traditionally very high - small cars, crossovers and SUVs. Neither company has made any real headway into the North American market in decades, however, and we have to wonder why they are continuing to try.
This company's sales figures for the year so far are continuing to drop. They're down under 5,000 units per month now and continuing to slide at double-digit losses year-on-year. They hold less than half of one percent of the total U.S. market.
Mitsu pretty much sealed its own fate when it took part in a very horrible deal with Chrysler back in 1978 to re-introduce the powerful Challenger name under a rebranded Galant. From that serious FUBAR, there was no recovery possible. Since then, despite the appeal of the Lancer and the steady popularity of the Outlander, Mitsubishi has yet to gain anything more than a toehold on the American market.
Known primarily in motor sports of the two-wheeled variety, and jokingly referred to as "Su-sucky" by Harley riders and Honda Davidson bikers, this company actually does very well in that market. In automobiles, however, they are barely half of what Mitsubishi is, making them the smallest major brand still selling in the U.S. Their total market share in this country is barely 0.2% and they're now selling under 2,000 vehicles per month in America.
Their success in the motorcycle markets are likely what sealed the deal for nipping any hope of a foothold in the automotive market for them. Since the name Suzuki is forever equated for most Americans with motocross and cheap around-town bikes, the cars and trucks they want to sell (yes, they have pickups) here are often poo-poo'd as "four wheeled motorcycles." If they even get noticed.
It's too bad too because the company's SX4 line of cars and crossovers and their Grand Vitara SUV are solid offerings.
By all rights, Volvo should also be included on this list. While the brand has a die hard core following of buyers, they actually sell fewer cars than Mitsubishi does, holding roughly the same amount of the market. So why not include them as a carmaker that should quit the game in the U.S. and concentrate elsewhere?
Because not only is Volvo innovative, but they have a good reputation and are well-liked in general by most American car buyers. Their only issue is cost, which is generally higher than the equivalent European import from the competition. Besides, making fun of Volvo is like making fun of the Volt. It's just an invitation for an inbox full of hate mail with no end in sight.