After several years of slumping sales and a reduction in models on offer, Isuzu has finally decided to pack it in and leave the U.S. market. Support will continue for existing vehicles, and those sold through the January 31, 2009 cut-off date.

Currently Isuzu's model line consists of Ascender SUVs and its i-series pickup trucks. In 1999, Isuzu sales peaked at 103,629 vehicles. Since then, sales have dropped precipitously - just 7,098 vehicles were sold in 2007, a 93% decline, reports Bloomberg. Isuzu is the first Asian car maker to leave the U.S. market since Daewoo's bankruptcy in 2002.

Hard times for Isuzu may be a sign of things to come for auto makers re-entering the U.S. market, like Alfa Romeo. The declining American economy combined with an already stiffly competitive auto market may be a recipe for disaster. In terms of sheer probability, Alfa could hardly have chosen a worse time to return to the U.S.

Isuzu initially rose to success in the 1980s, as it helped to pioneer the SUV segment with its highly successful Trooper. Without a ground-breaking segment to spearhead - or a particularly inspiring vehicle lineup, for that matter - Alfa Romeo may find the U.S. a cold and unwelcoming place.