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Analysts to Mitsubishi, Suzuki: "Forget America"

by Andrew Ganz

Several industry analysts have voiced outspoken recommendations for struggling Japanese automakers Suzuki and Mitsubishi to withdraw from the United States market. Way outpacing the average industry decline, both automakers have seen sales slip by more than 50 percent this year.

"It's time for them to decide whether they pay a high price to continue business there or stop the bleeding," Yuuki Sakurai, the chief of Fukoku Capital Management told Bloomberg.

Sakurai is hardly alone in his recommendation. Auto industry analyst Yasuaki Iwamoto of Okasan Securities said that Suzuki, in particular, should focus on the small cars that have helped make it Japan's fourth largest automaker. None of those small vehicles are sold in the U.S. and few analysts see a market for them outside of Asia.

"It makes more sense for Suzuki to put its limited resources into small cars," said Iwamoto. "Forget about America."

Suzuki will be adding a midsize sedan to its North American portfolio soon, however, when it unveils the production Kizashi. The sedan was designed with North America in mind.

Mitsubishi, which has debated what to do with its Illinois plant and has closed its California design studio, doesn't have a promising new model for the North American market. It is heavily promoting its electric car technology with the MiEV, but analysts don't predict much demand in the U.S.

Yet the company's leader said that the automaker is committed to the North American market.

"We will never give up the U.S. market," Mitsubishi Motors President Osamu Masuko said on July 9 in Tokyo. "The U.S. will return to being the world's biggest market."

Neither automaker is on track to exceed sales of 50,000 units this year.