According to reports, slow demand for both the North American Mazda6 sedan and the Subaru Tribeca SUV have reportedly spelled the end for both U.S.-built models.
Surprising? Hardly. In fact, we already had some inkling that Mazda was thinking of offing the Mazda6 in the U.S. earlier this year, when officials openly pondered what to do with its stake in the Flat Rock, Michigan assembly plant that currently builds the 6 (and the Ford Mustang). The factory is woefully under capacity, given that Mazda hoped it could build 100,000 units annually, but in 2010, the factory only cranked out 45,168 examples.
Sales for the first four months of 2011 don’t look any better, seeing as only 11,965 examples have been sold to date. That’s a paltry number when compared to the volumes of competitors like the Chevrolet Malibu, Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and Hyundai Sonata -- all of which regularly sell 21,000-30,000 units per month. Interestingly, Automotive News points directly points to the Mazda6 as the car that’s keeping Mazda from realizing an operating profit in North America.
Likewise, the writing has long been on the wall for Subaru’s quirky and dated Tribeca. The large crossover has been a sales flop for most of its life, but recent numbers have completely fallen by the wayside. Last year, sales totaled only 2472 vehicles, and 2011 looks no better -- only 910 Tribecas have been sold in the first four months of this year, which is equal to the number of Tribecas sold in the first four months of 2010.
The Tribeca, which is still technically in its first generation, debuted in 2005 to widespread criticism for its awkward styling and marginal fuel economy. A 2009 facelift helped address the exterior form, but still failed to win buyers over.
There may be a silver lining to killing both models: the automakers could then utilize their U.S. production sites to build models that resonate and sell well in North America. Mazda officials previously hinted Flat Rock could be retooled to build compact cars (perhaps even the Mazda3) that are increasingly proving successful in this market. Subaru, on the other hand, would likely use the extra capacity at its plant Lafayette, Indiana, to build additional examples of its Legacy sedan and Outback wagon -- both of which continue to be q uite popular with the buying public.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)