If Suzuki Died in America, Would Anyone Notice?

April 18th, 2012

Suzuki Kizashi

When Hummer left this world, there was much applause.

During Pontiac’s slow death, there was much reminiscing and sadness.

During Saab’s (continuing) downfall, there was much protest.

If Suzuki goes down, will there be much… of anything at all?

No doubt about it, Suzuki makes a fine automobile. They are dependable, affordable, and lately, even stylish and sporty. Unfortunately, most of the vehicles it offers in the U.S. are outdated and blown away by the competition. The Kizashi is the lone star right now, a fine entry in the midsize sedan market. The SX4 and Grand Vitara, though, are in desperate need of a refresh.

Why Suzuki doesn’t offer its universally loved and appreciated Swift in the U.S. market remains a mystery, but then again, so does a lot of Suzuki’s actions here lately. Or lack of actions, I should say.

A story at Automotive News claims a Suzuki dealer said that around 60 percent of dealers sell 5 or fewer cars per month. The company has lost dealers every year since 2005. The company’s U.S. social media sites are ghost towns. There are no firm plans here for new product. Add it all up, and it could mean plans are already well underway to exit the U.S. market and build the brand in places it is already strong.

Suzuki, though, could survive here. It would take a lot of marketing and a slew of new vehicles, but it’s possible. The SX4 is already the cheapest (most inexpensive) AWD car available, so why not exploit that fact and become a bargain Subaru alternative? Update the SX4 and lower the price on Grand Vitara and the ball will begin to roll.

Obviously, something in the Suzuki America equation isn’t working right now. A low-volume discount brand isn’t a good strategy, there has to be a compelling selling point, whether it be stellar fuel economy or a full range of inexpensive AWD vehicles, to succeed. If Suzuki isn’t able, or willing, to provide that selling point, we should be prepared to see the end.

I, for one, would miss Suzuki vehicles here. Would you?

-tgriffith

Find Used Cars in Your Area at CarGurus

Used Suzuki Kizashi
Used Suzuki SX4
Used Suzuki Grand Vitara

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  1. Anon
    May 23rd, 2012 at 16:53 | #1

    You are correct that suzuki makes decent cars. You are totally ignorant when you say that suzuki can revive the brand easily by adding some marketing dollars. The only way suzuki can remake itself is by lot of investment and new dealers, great dealers. Suzuki died a slow death mainly because of lack of cars that the market wanted and good dealers to sell them. Now that they have cars that folks might be interested in, there are no good dealers. Suzuki dealerships or whats left of them are probably worse than ANY brand and even worse than many used car dealerships you have ever dealt with. The only reason one would deal with a suzuki dealer is if any of these are true..

    A) You never atttended school.
    B) The education system failed you.
    C) Your credit is so bad that not even loans-r-us is willing to give you a small loan.
    D) You enjoy being humiliated and talked down to.

    I would rather get a tooth pulled without novocaine that have to deal with a suzuki dealer for either sales or service and would not even pick up a Grand Vitara or Kizashi for 1/2 the price.. maybe at 90% off I would grudgingly pick one up and buy some basic spare parts like air filters,oil filters, a/c filters and some hoses and belts to keep handy and keep the car running for a few years by a trusted local mechanic.

  2. Reggie
    April 30th, 2012 at 02:37 | #2

    Suzuki has been profitable every year for six decades. Long before they ever had a connection with GM (speaking of companies that were kept in business by the Government.) Suzuki is hardly a company that should go out of business just because they aren’t auto big in America.

    There is a whole big world picture out there. It’s influence has expanded well beyond observation of merely what goes on in the U.S. Suzuki is one of top ten auto makers worldwide (above names like Chrysler, Mazda, and Subaru.) Suzuki is doing quite well in hot, newly expanding markets like India, China, and the far east in general to boot.

  3. April 22nd, 2012 at 19:06 | #3

    Randy,

    I think you’re underestimating the design of the Japanese economic system in keeping afloat companies that should have gone bankrupt decades ago. Analyst predict that around 30 percent of Japanese companies are Zombies companies — that is, companies that haven’t made a profit in years. In other words, the reason Suzuki is still around has as much to do with the structure of the Japanese economy as it does with the competence (or lack thereof) of its management.

    Other Japanese automotive companies that should have gone bankrupt along time ago are Mitsubishi and, I hate to admit it, Mazda. Can you believe Isuzu is still operating is some remote corners of the world? If those companies were American, they would have gone the way of the Dodo decades ago.

  4. Randy
    April 19th, 2012 at 06:54 | #4

    Funny that the other brands you mention were victims of GM management expertise and brand management. (Actually not so funny for employees of those companies.) I think the only real success that Suzuki has had in the recent past was because GM was buying them and rebadging (or even putting a Suzuki badge on some GM cars) and they likely would have gone out of business decades ago otherwise. That’s not saying much for a Japanese company during the golden age of Japanese automotive expansion. Perhaps soon it will become just another dead husk dumped by GM.

  5. Andrew Juris
    April 18th, 2012 at 14:22 | #5

    Yes! I had a SX-4 Sport Sedan with a 5 spd and loved it. Only got rid of it because the wife wouldn’t learn how to drive a manual!

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