Many have tried selling cars in America, and many have failed miserably. Germans, French or Japanese, you name it! But when it comes to the Edsels of the imported machinery, you can also expect General Motors to show the world how to lose money.
Here are ten car that you didn't like quite enough:
10.) BMW Z8
The Z8 is one of the most beautiful cars ever made, but it came out at just the wrong moment for the US market. Tough times according to 6cyl:
The BMW Z8 came at the wrong time. A really nice looking car that would have been a great "super car" competitor in the 90's but entered the market in 2000. In the early 2000's brought so many new cars to compete for the high end buyers it is no surprise that sales plummeted. There were:
- 2 new Lamborghini's
- the Carrera GT and a new 911
- the Ferrari F430 and Enzo
- the Maserati MC12
- the Mercedes-McLaren SLR
from the Americans:
- the 3rd gen Viper came out with 500hp!
- a new Corvette was announced for a fraction the price with the same performance
- also the Saleen S7 and the Panoz Esperante came out the same year as the Z8
Bad timing to say the least.
U.S sales 2000 317 2001 970 2002 524 2003 439 2004 110 2005 17 2006 5
9.) Daihatsu Charade
I liked the European version of the Daihatsu Charade Turbo even if it rusted like a Lancia from the seventies. On the other side of the water, Patrick Frawley believes the whole brand was doomed:
Biggest all-time fiasco in American import history? Daihatsu has to be a contender. One blandly competent (if underpowered) hatchback and one appealing but toylike off-roader do not add up to a competitive product line. Trapped by a number of market issues and a inescapably super-Japanese (and clumsy) name in a somewhat nativist time, Daihatsu never had a fair chance. Probably didn't deserve one, either.
8.) Volkswagen Phaeton
The Audi-beating Volkswagen is was of the best cars in the world when it came out. It also turned out to be a sales disaster. Still, as Jagvar pointed out, at least you can get a used one at a bargain price:
Everyone's expecting me to say it, so I'm just going to say it: Volkswagen Phaeton. The car itself was superb, but the sales were beyond disappointing.
VW spent $1 billion developing the car, and sure didn't make a billion selling them in the US. The initial US sales target for the Phaeton was 5,000 a year; it never achieved half that.
Of course, the upside of an awesome car selling poorly is that it becomes a used-car bargain.
7.) Pontiac GTO
Badge-engineering may lead to death. OMG, TTA! wasn't impressed with GM's work:
I don't mean that they were bad cars, but the marketing, the promotion, and the sales were miserable. GM threw Holdens at us as a too-little-too-late band-aid for GM's failing image in the early 2000's. The GTO got styling toned way down from the aggressive looking concept, and the G8 rode the disappointing coat tails of the G6 and Grand Prix without a real ad campaign.
6.) Renault Le Car
The Renault 5 was a great little hatchback in Europe. The Le Car sold by AMC wasn't that great, and Americans didn't want to touch them. The Renault was small, slow, and had a tiny dealer network. Having one now sounds like a nice hobby. Especially if you're a law officer.
5.) Subaru 360
While popular in Japan, American sales were legendary. Jonee got a story for us:
Lots of good Subaru 360 stories. Some dealers offered them for $1.00 if you bought a Buick or Cadillac. When Bricklin couldn't get rid of them, he came up with a scheme to sell go-cart tracks where people would drive 360's. For a franchise fee you'd get a handful of the cars and a shitload of tires. Where did Malcolm get the tires? Well, he was paid to dispose of them when he underbid someone else and instead of destroying or recycling them, he used them for the tracks.
Subaru tried everything in order to boost sales. I always wanted to go to Subaru Land!
But the 360 wasn't their only failure in America. Remember the price tag on the SVX?
4.) Peugeot 405
European Car Of The Year? MAXIMUMVRM remembers that the US of A couldn't care less:
The Peugeot 405 has my vote. Euro car of the year in 1988. For sale in the USA in 1988 and 1991. The first year for sale in the US they sold around 1000. By the time it was gone the total was only up to around 4000.
3.) Rover Sterling
Electric moonroof, supple Connolly leather and Honda's "Formula One bred 2.5-litre V6 engine". They improved on that by replacing that with a Rover unit. What a car!
2.) Pontiac LeMans
What started out as an Opel Kadett in Europe was turned into a Daewoo Racer in Korea and sold in the US with the classic name Pontiac LeMans. The humanity!
The one in the picture is a special version of the Passport Optima for the Canadian market. The plot thickens.
You don't even need John Davis to know that the Yugo wasn't as bad as everybody likes to say it was. Still, getting a communist copy of an Italian car to America was a stupid idea to say the least. The result: 141,000 sold in eight years.
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Top Photo Credit: The World Is Not Enough