Left Lane News reports that Suzuki has suffered a 75% decline in automobile sales over the past three years. From their peak of nearly 102,000 cars sold in 2007, Suzuki is on pace to sell just over 23,000 cars in 2010. The number of Suzuki dealers has been cut dramatically as well, from a high of 486 dealerships in 2007 to roughly 300 today. Are these signs that Suzuki is preparing to exit the U.S. market?
Not so, says American Suzuki Motors. In fact, the reduction in dealers was done in an effort to strengthen successful dealerships and cull those that weren’t performing. Some 150 dealerships received buyout offers from American Suzuki and agreed to accept a payout of up to $50,000, plus the buyback of inventory and parts. The average monthly sell-though of dealerships in the buy back program was just two vehicles, so it’s not likely that their absence will be noticed by consumers.
Suzuki is now satisfied with the size of their U.S. dealer network and has ended the buy back program. Given the effort that Suzuki has put into their product line over the past few years, I’d certainly like to see them stick it out in the U.S. market. Like their bikes, their cars represent a solid value and give buyers some decent choices in the entry level market.