TOKYO — For all of Suzuki’s tough talk about its ‘‘bush-busting’’ Samurai off-roader, the Japanese automaker never made it big in the United States. Its cars were too small, its safety record iffy, and its branding a bit too comical (Suzuki Sidekick, anyone?).
So it came as little surprise to most analysts when Suzuki announced late Monday that it would stop selling automobiles in the United States and put its American unit into Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Suzuki’s decision is a sensible step to focus on its strengths, said Koji Endo, an auto industry analyst and managing director at Advanced Research, an equity research firm in Tokyo. The strong yen also made it difficult to make a profit by manufacturing cars in Japan and shipping them to the United States, he said.
“Basically, Suzuki does not need the United States, and the United States didn’t need Suzuki,’’ Endo said.
The American Suzuki Motor Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Monday with $346 million in debt, the company said. In a statement, Suzuki said that various challenges led to its withdrawal from the US market, including low sales volumes, the limited number of models in its lineup, and unfavorable foreign exchange rates.