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Suzuki Leaving U.S. Market; Mitsubishi Hanging In There (For Now)

Suzuki Mitsubishi

American Suzuki Motor Corp., after years of struggling to find their way in the U.S. marketplace, has finally decided to pull the plug and will cease selling their vehicles in the United States. This does not affect their motorcycle, marine engine, or ATV operations. Meanwhile, Mitsubishi Motors, also scrambling for a foothold in the U.S. market, appears to be making a push to carry on, naming a chairman for their U.S. division for the first time since 2007.

 

Interesting Cars, Miniscule Sales

The loss of Suzuki likely will be barely noticed by the general public, with miniscule sales figures in recent years (under 22,000 so far this year). However, driving enthusiasts and appreciators of the unique niche-fillers that Suzuki offered will lament that they were never quite able to sustain sales traction here.

Their Kizashi midsize sedan barely made a dent in that segment, going up against heavyweights like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, but the motoring press appreciated its spirited handling, upscale interior, and the bang-for-the-buck. Many scribes likened it to a budget version of the Audi A4 or Acura TSX.

The Suzuki SX-4 crossover for years was the most fuel-efficient AWD vehicle available in the U.S. Its stubby tall-wagon configuration, unique styling, and tight handling made for a versatile, fun-to-drive all-weather runabout at a bargain price.

 

What Are the Risks of Owning One Now?

The question begs: Should you buy one of these Suzukis before they exit the marketplace? You’ll definitely be able to negotiate an excellent price on one of these, but that answer depends on your comfort level with a few different factors that you’ll encounter.

Warranty Support, Parts, and Maintenance: Suzuki dealerships that were part of multiple-brand showrooms will continue to offer service, parts, and honor warranties for Suzuki owners. Standalone dealerships could possibly carry on as service and parts centers, according to Suzuki, but it seems unlikely that very many dealerships will choose that option.

Resale Value: The disappearance of the Suzuki brand will no doubt affect resale values going forward. Orphan brands tend to scare off buyers. But if you’re the type to drive a car into the ground, that won’t matter much to you, will it? And you’ll be getting a big discount on the front end to offset the loss in resale value.

Insurance Costs: Orphan brands worry not only buyers, they worry insurance companies as well. The fear of parts scarcity, and the attendant higher prices for those parts, tends to drive up insurance rates.

 

Whither Mitsubishi?

Like Suzuki, Mitsubishi has been struggling in the U.S. with a limited and outdated portfolio of vehicles. The Lancer Evolution is an heroic and lust-worthy sport sedan worthy of the fastest and most furious enthusiasts, but that niche is hardly enough to sustain the brand here. Their midsize Galant is hopelessly outdated, the non-Evo Lancer is a competent compact, but hardly a standout, and the same can said for their various flavors of the Outlander crossover.

So what’s the plan? Hard to say at this time, but the placement of company veteran Gayo Uesugi as the first chairman of U.S. operations signals that they’re not quite giving up yet. Could hybrids and electrics be the difference-maker for them? The i-MiEV is one of the few all-electrics currently available, and a brand-new Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid is on the way.

 

If you decide to test the waters with any of these Suzukis or Mitsubishis, start your research at AutoBuying101.com.