Car Buying

Why Aren't Some Popular Foreign Cars Sold in America?

RELATED READING
RESEARCH BY MAKE
Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs
Acura cars, trucks and SUVs Alfa Romeo cars, trucks and SUVs AMC cars, trucks and SUVs Aston Martin cars, trucks and SUVs Audi cars, trucks and SUVs Bentley cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Bugatti cars, trucks and SUVs Buick cars, trucks and SUVs Cadillac cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Chrysler cars, trucks and SUVs Daewoo cars, trucks and SUVs Datsun cars, trucks and SUVs DeLorean cars, trucks and SUVs Dodge cars, trucks and SUVs Eagle cars, trucks and SUVs Ferrari cars, trucks and SUVs FIAT cars, trucks and SUVs Fisker cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Freightliner cars, trucks and SUVs Genesis cars, trucks and SUVs Geo cars, trucks and SUVs GMC cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs HUMMER cars, trucks and SUVs Hyundai cars, trucks and SUVs INFINITI cars, trucks and SUVs Isuzu cars, trucks and SUVs Jaguar cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Kia cars, trucks and SUVs Lamborghini cars, trucks and SUVs Land Rover cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Lincoln cars, trucks and SUVs Lotus cars, trucks and SUVs Maserati cars, trucks and SUVs Maybach cars, trucks and SUVs Mazda cars, trucks and SUVs McLaren cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs Mercury cars, trucks and SUVs MINI cars, trucks and SUVs Mitsubishi cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Oldsmobile cars, trucks and SUVs Plymouth cars, trucks and SUVs Pontiac cars, trucks and SUVs Porsche cars, trucks and SUVs RAM cars, trucks and SUVs Rolls-Royce cars, trucks and SUVs Saab cars, trucks and SUVs Saturn cars, trucks and SUVs Scion cars, trucks and SUVs smart cars, trucks and SUVs SRT cars, trucks and SUVs Subaru cars, trucks and SUVs Suzuki cars, trucks and SUVs Tesla cars, trucks and SUVs Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Volvo cars, trucks and SUVs Yugo cars, trucks and SUVs
RESEARCH BY STYLE
AWD/4WD
Commercial
Convertible
Coupe
Hatchback
Hybrid/Electric
Luxury
Sedan
SUV/Crossover
Truck
Van/Minivan
Wagon

author photo by Doug DeMuro June 2015

If you've traveled abroad, you've probably seen a lot of interesting foreign cars that aren't available in the United States. You also may have wondered why exactly that is. After all, if a car is popular in somewhere such as South America, Australia or Europe, why wouldn't it also be popular in the U.S.? This is a good question, and we have the answer.

Regulations Galore

The biggest issue stopping some automakers from entering the U.S. market is regulations. The U.S. market has some of the strictest automotive regulations in the world, including safety standards and emissions rules. As a result, some automakers find the cost of entering the U.S. market and complying with its regulations to simply be too high -- so they don't bother selling their vehicles here.

Interestingly, this prevents the arrival of some vehicles that might otherwise be popular -- especially SUVs, trucks and vans sold abroad. But for many foreign automakers, such as Peugeot, Lancia and Citroen, one popular vehicle wouldn't be enough to justify the cost of jumping through our many regulatory hoops -- and establishing a large network of dealerships throughout the entire country.

Different Tastes

Another problem that prevents many foreign cars from coming our way is that U.S. buyers often have different tastes than foreign car shoppers. For instance, gasoline is cheaper in the U.S. than it is in most foreign countries, which means that Americans generally want cars with bigger engines and more power. Likewise, our country is larger and more spread out than most of Europe, so we want bigger vehicles for bigger cities and bigger roads.

The result is that many foreign vehicles probably wouldn't sell too well in the U.S. While the tiny Citroen C1 you rented on your European vacation may have been perfectly adept for Europe's small roads and tiny towns, the same car probably wouldn't fare quite as well on U.S. highways contending with large pickups, full-size tractor-trailers and high speed limits.

What About Diesels?

Many shoppers often wonder why Americans can't buy highly efficient diesel vehicles that are offered in Asian and European countries. After all, some diesel models overseas return 50 or 60 miles per gallon -- figures that would even put the miserly Prius to shame. So why don't those cars come to America?

Once again, one reason is regulations: Some of these engines don't meet U.S. emissions standards, which means that automakers would have to spend a lot of time getting them past regulators.

Another major reason we don't see more frugal diesels in America is that performance often wouldn't be up to American standards. Many American shoppers expect all cars to be punchy and quick when accelerating away from traffic lights and up highway on-ramps, and 70- or 80-horsepower diesel vehicles just won't provide drivers with the performance they're used to.

So there are many reasons why foreign cars don't come to the U.S., including regulations, hp numbers and different tastes. And even in our increasingly global world, it's likely that this will remain the case for years to come.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Why Aren't Some Popular Foreign Cars Sold in America? - Autotrader