Daihatsu out, Great Wall in
The decision to pull out of Europe has come from headquarters in Osaka, Japan, and has been taken because of the continuing strength of the yen against the pound and the euro, which makes it impossible to sell cars profitably at competitive prices.
Daihatsu also cites the cost of developing cars to meet Europe's increasingly tough emissions regulations.
The company sold just 170 cars in the UK in 2010 against 2306 in recession-hit 2009, although its cars were largely off-sale for a large part of the year because of unfavourable exchange rates.
The UK importer is Daihatsu Vehicle Distributors, a part of the Birmingham-based International Motors (IM) group. In a statement on its website, it says Daihatsu Motor Company in Japan has announced plans to cease exporting cars to Europe as of January 31, 2013.
The company's 122 UK dealers will continue to provide warranty, parts and servicing support for existing customers, although how long they can all continue to do so with no cars to sell remains open to question.
It is believed IM will start selling Great Wall cars made in China from the middle of this year, and they may well be put through Daihatsu dealers as a means of keeping them in business.
The UK distibutors say it is 'early days', but it is working with Daihatsu in Japan to work out how after-sales support can continue after January 2013.
In a similar move, Nissan has decided to stop selling the Cube in the UK. The initial batch of 1000 is now nearly sold out and the UK importers will not order any more because they could not be sold profitably at a reasonable price.
'We saw the volumes trailing off, got our calculators out and realised we would not be able to continue selling the car profitably,' said a spokesman. Just a few of the original 1000 cars remain in stock.