It seems that second-tier Japanese carmakers Mitsubishi and Suzuki are currently struggling to keep up with the challenges brought about by the aggressive vehicle launches and introductions of their rivals in the United States. According to sources familiar with Mitsubishi’s product plans, the Japanese carmaker has only plotted two major vehicle introductions for the United States between this year and 2015.
As for Suzuki, sources privy to the company said that it is not planning any new or redesigned product launches before 2015. Both Japanese carmakers are concentrating more on emerging markets while their US sales and market share decline. When combined, Mitsubishi and Suzuki held a 0.6 percent share of the US market through July 2012, down from 0.8 percent for the full year 2011 and 1.4 percent in 2007.
While the overall market rose 14 percent, Mitsubishi sales dropped a dismal 29 percent to just 37,067 vehicles for the first seven months of July. Suzuki sales, meanwhile, dove 4 percent to 15,260 units for the same review period. Although Mitsubishi and Suzuki claim they are here for the long term, they fail to keep abreast with their counterparts -- Hyundai, Kia, Volkswagen, Subaru and Mazda -- in new product launches, making them fall behind their competitors.
In 2002, Mitsubishi sold 345,111 vehicles in the US, more than Volkswagen and Kia, and within 30,000 units of Hyundai. Suzuki, on the other hand, sold more than 100,000 units as recently as 2007. Mitsubishi spokesman Roger Yasukawa wrote Automotive News in an e-mail, saying that the company is going through a transitional period to strengthen its product lineup in the US.