Blog: Glenn BrooksUS market: Porsche outselling Suzuki, Mercedes outselling Mazda

Glenn Brooks | 2 August 2012

As Bill Cawthon's monthly round-up of US market new vehicle sales shows, it's good news for just about every brand. But with even Porsche continuing to outsell it, how long can American Suzuki keep taking the pain?

As these numbers illustrate, things just aren't what they used to be for Suzuki. Even before the brand gave up on CAMI, the manufacturing joint venture it had in Canada with General Motors, sales were slipping. You do wonder what's going on, especially when there are now rumours that Suzuki won't be at the LA auto show later this year.

Another Japanese brand that seems to have lost its way is Mazda. The firm's 50% stake in the AutoAlliance plant in Michigan is being wound down (Ford will build the Fusion on the vacated line) as the locally-built second generation Mazda6 comes to the end of its lifecycle. The replacement model for North American markets will come from Japan.

Mazda announced this morning that the Hofu 2 plant will have capacity to make just 120,000 units per annum of the third generation car, so that gives you an idea of how modest its sales goal is for the car in the US market. Once a big seller, the Mazda6 has quietly faded as additional competitors such as the newly US-built VW Passat and Kia Optima have squeezed it.

Can Suzuki fix its US operations? It does seem like quite a challenge and as ever, the answer is theoretically simple: fresh products are needed, yesterday. But how to make a profit when its image is cheap and its manufacturing costs are the opposite?

As for Mazda, things should start to turn around next year when the Mexican plant comes on stream, building a new Mazda3. What it really should be making there is the CX-5, if improving the brand's US market sales is the priority. Instead, the Mazda2 will be the other product to be manufactured at Salamanca - why, when the segment of the US market into which it might be launched remains a minor one while compact SUVs continue to fly out of showrooms?


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