5 European Cars that failed to attract interest in the USA

5 European Cars that failed to attract interest in the USA

Europe has a rich automotive history with some iconic car brands that have gained worldwide popularity. However, not all European cars have been successful in the US market. Despite their popularity in their home countries, some cars have failed to attract the interest of American buyers. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at five European cars that didn’t gain much attention in the US market. From high-end luxury cars to affordable everyday vehicles, these cars have failed to make a significant impact in the American automotive industry. Let’s explore these vehicles and find out why they didn’t appeal to American consumers.


Number 1. Audi 5000


5 European Cars that failed to attract interest in the USA


The Audi 5000, known as the third-generation Audi 100 in Europe, had all the makings of a hit in America. Unfortunately, it became infamous due to an alarming phenomenon known as sudden unintended acceleration. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted an investigation and identified several causes, the most remembered being “inadvertent and unknowing driver application” of the wrong pedal. Comedian P.J. O’Rourke summed it up perfectly, stating that drivers “stepped on the gas instead of the brake.”

The fallout from this incident was devastating, not just for the 5000 but for Audi’s entire reputation in the US. Sales plummeted from over 74,000 in 1985 to less than 13,000 in 1991, and it wasn’t until the turn of the century that they fully recovered. Even today, Audi sells fewer cars annually in the US than its competitors BMW, Mercedes, and Lexus.


Number 2. DeLorean DMC 12


5 European Cars that failed to attract interest in the USA


Born in Northern Ireland with British government money, the DeLorean was a car designed mainly for the US market. Its appearance was sleek and head-turning, but its Renault 2.7-litre V6 engine lacked the power to match its looks. This, combined with numerous quality issues, led to a short-lived story for the DeLorean company, which was declared bankrupt not long after its inception.

Despite its struggles, the DeLorean has achieved cult status thanks in part to a certain 1985 film. While fewer than 7,000 units were sold in the States – around a thousand of them post-bankruptcy – survivors remain passionate about their beloved DeLoreans to this day.


Number 3. Fiat 124 Spider


5 European Cars that failed to attract interest in the USA


The Fiat 124 Spider was a sleek roadster that shared much of its DNA with the Mazda MX-5. The two were even built side-by-side in Hiroshima, Japan. But while the MX-5 was beloved by drivers around the world, the 124 Spider struggled to find its footing in the fiercely competitive US market.

In fact, the 124 Spider had a serious problem: it just couldn’t find any buyers. According to industry insiders, the optimal time for a car to spend at a dealership before being snatched up by a customer is 60 days. But for the 124 Spider, that number was an eye-watering 461 days. Ouch.

Despite its turbocharged Fiat engine and sexy Italian styling, the 124 Spider just couldn’t capture the hearts and minds of American drivers. It never managed to sell more than 4500 units in a single year, a far cry from the sales numbers enjoyed by its European counterparts.

It seems that, for all its charm, the Fiat 124 Spider was simply too niche for the cut-throat American car market.


Number 4. Mercedes B-Class


5 European Cars that failed to attract interest in the USA


The second-generation B-Class was a car that had a rough time in the US market. It was only ever sold as an electric vehicle, which unfortunately limited its chances of selling in large numbers. However, there were several other factors that contributed to the B-Class’s lackluster performance.

One of the main issues was that the B-Class simply couldn’t compete with other electric vehicles in the market. While some EVs were selling at rates of over 20,000 per year, the B-Class struggled to break through the 1000 mark. Despite its sleek design and comfortable interior, the B-Class failed to capture the attention of consumers in the same way that other EVs did.

Another problem with the B-Class was its limited range. With an official range of just 87 miles, the car simply didn’t have the same level of practicality as other EVs that offered longer ranges. For many drivers, the fear of running out of power before reaching their destination was a significant concern. This made the B-Class less appealing, even to those who might have otherwise been interested in purchasing an electric vehicle.

In the end, a combination of factors led to the B-Class’s underperformance in the US market. While it was a well-made car with plenty of features and a comfortable ride, it simply couldn’t compete with other EVs on the market that offered longer ranges and better overall performance.


Number 5. Renault Dauphine


5 European Cars that failed to attract interest in the USA


The Dauphine was initially a massive success in the US market, with annual sales quickly rising to over 100,000 units – a remarkable achievement for an imported car in the late 1950s. Its stylish design, fuel efficiency, and affordable price made it a popular choice among American drivers.

However, it soon became clear that the Dauphine’s build quality wasn’t up to par with the high mileage typically achieved by American drivers who often had to travel long distances. The car began to experience significant mechanical issues, resulting in frequent breakdowns and costly repairs. As a result, secondhand values plummeted, and finance houses started refusing to offer instalment plans for new cars. The Dauphine’s once-strong sales quickly evaporated, and tens of thousands of them sat idle across the country.

The sudden loss of income caused a significant blow to Renault, which struggled to recover from the setback. Fortunately, the company managed to regain its footing with the launch of the immensely successful Renault 4 in 1961. However, despite its success in other parts of the world, the company never imported the Renault 4 to the United States.

The Dauphine’s fate serves as a cautionary tale of the importance of quality control in the automotive industry. While initial sales may be strong, a lack of attention to detail can result in costly problems down the line, causing a significant blow to a company’s reputation and bottom line. Renault’s subsequent success with the Renault 4 demonstrates the importance of learning from past mistakes and taking the time to develop high-quality products that can withstand the demands of the market.

No votes yet.
Please wait...