The decision to buy an American car outside the US is completely irrational and emotional. In Europe it's mostly the posers who want to look rich to the untrained eye, by owning something rare that has a less advanced drivetrain and worse build quality than the comparable European and Japanese offerings.
This article talks about their popularity last year:
Which doesn't change the fact that it's an aspirational "style over substance" decision for the majority of buyers, especially those buying the 2.3 EcoBoost version. Recently I also do spot them quite frequently in Bulgaria, but their resale value on the second-hand market is tragic, they lose something like 70% of their value in 3 years even with low mileage.
Given the price of a C class coupe or a base 911 vs a Mustang, there is a real value proposition, not just style over substance as you suggest.
edit: Also, if you can get a 70% discount on a 2016 Mustang, that's an outrageous deal. That's a lot of car for ~10000 USD.
The Subaru WRX has the same number of horse/dollars as the EcoBoost Mustang. Otherwise cars have quite a bit fewer horse/dollars.
I'd say they're a decent example of actually wanting to sell to car markets that's not the US.
To be fair, its also 'irrational and emotional' for most people in the US also.
Patriotism isn't really 'rational', and while keeping jobs in America is rational, unless you work in the car industry, the benefits of buying the right car outweigh the job/tax loss.
This would apply to any country and any car industry BTW, I'm not having a dig at the US.
 theres probably many books on this subject, and there are a great many rational elements to patriotism. Buying a car, just because it says 'made in X', I would contend isn't one of them.
Companies have convinced people, particularly in the US, that products are reflections of themselves. In doing so they've convinced people to engage in completely irrational consumer behavior on a very wide scale. $1000 phones for one group of people is the same as $300 sneakers for another group -- wasting money to try to convey an image. That $1000 phone has parts worth a few hundred bucks, the sneakers are made for about $15. It's only with extreme irrationality that these would ever be viable business models.
This is one of the big reasons I go out of my way to block any and all advertising. People don't think they're susceptible to advertising, yet look at society and people have become completely and absolutely irrational in their purchasing. I think it's clearly marketing and advertising driving this - patriotism is just one small subset of domains that is effectively targeted.
I don't know if those are real issues, but I heard them mentioned.
Teslas are very prestigious cars here in the UK as well.
Fact is, American cars, designed and built for the American market, don't do well in Europe and other markets because the quality levels are sub-standard in comparison with the competition - especially in Europe.
Ford had to re-design models for sale in the European market because European consumers sniffed their noses at American cars - and rightly so, the quality difference between American and European designs really is quite obnoxious to buyers. American standards just don't stand a chance compared to European expectations.
I believe this is no longer the case with newer models since Ford spun off Volvo.
what american car would give that impression? There are _some_ american style muscle cars but it's very tiny amount IME.
OTOH, I do think there are a few Ford cars which are popular in europe (the Focus comes to mind), and Jeep has always had it's modicum of market share (arguably, it's european at this point).
The modern muscle cars, and the likes of Dodge Ram and Ford F150. Jeep is maybe the only exception.
The Focus and the GM Opels are what I consider European volume cars, targeted mostly for the European market.
Let's not forget that Tesla is an American brand and is rather crushing it in certain non US markets such as Norway...
If GM wasn't bailed out, they would have failed HARD. Like, plant closes, which means in that town restaurants close, doctors offices close, tax revenue drops so public sector jobs suffer, suppliers no longer have someone to supply, so they cut back. There would have been a massive ripple effect in an already awful time. Don't forget about the rampant middle class foreclosures, middle class homelessness, college savings lost, etc. 2008-2010 was really bad.
Also, it was a loan that GM was able to repay and gov't made money on the deal on top of continued income tax payments from all the people who remained employed and off unemployment.
Or do the Japanese view the Tesla as just another big car American company?
They are expensive ($50k+) and unavailable, though.
Model X and Model S and other cars in that class are wider than the current models of the VW Transporter van, and even longer than the short wheelbase model.
Skoda Octavia: 4670 mm.
Skoda Octavia is far from an exotic car in Europe.
The real problem is this:
Tesla Model 3: starting price €46k.
Skoda Octavia: starting price €22k.
The model 3 is sized pretty regularly though.
I'm European and in market for buying an American car. It came as surprise for me that the price of Tesla includes several thousands euros of extra import tax, compared to European manufactured cars. This feels wrong, i.e. I'm being punished as customer/citizen because no European car manufacturer make attractive alternative for Teslas.
Who knew Buick would be made cool again by Chinese consumers?
[thanks for all the answers, it's super helpful :D )
- Can't meet the Japanese buying experience.
- Vehicle size.
- No American kei cars.
However, US is arguing that removing some market barriers would help them increase their market share.
So that's a small 'American' car, small enough to be a Kei car
According to this there's also Pontiac and Holden branding :sigh: 
 when I think about Chevrolet, I think Chevvy V8s, 'Vettes, El Caminos, Camaros, big (1970s big) American pickups, and just general Americana, car culture, etc. NONE of those things are embodied in the Matiz.
South Korea, where the Matiz originated, has its own rules for gyeongcha (same meaning as Kei car) that allow cars up to 1000cc and 3.6m. The Matiz/Spark was designed for these rules, not the much stricter Japanese rules.
> So that's a small 'American' car, small enough to be a Kei car
Nope, that's history for some years now. Chevrolet decided late 2013 to cut the mentioned small car business with former Daewoo in Europe and leave this field to their older (and now also sold) brands Opel and Vauxhall.
The only Chevrolets now sold in Europe are their so called "Iconic Cars" Camaro and Corvette.
If your objection is to my use of the present tense, maybe? The Daewoo Matiz is no more, and is now currently known as the Chevrolet Matiz? I'm starting to talk myself out if it now though :)
I did try and send them a bill for my armchair strategising back when the change was announced, they never got back to me though.....
Sounds like the Japanese have it figured out.
Tesla had to deal this kind of stuff in many states, in order to be able to sell directly to their users.