If Suzuki Died in America, Would Anyone Notice?
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 Unfortunately, most of the vehicles it offers in the U.S. are outdated and blown away by the competition.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?