By on December 24, 2010

Road & Track magazine may think Suzuki enjoyed

huge success following the introduction of the Kizashi,

but the numbers don’t really back that perspective up. With 21,347 brand-wide sales year-to-date, the Suzuki brand about as popular as the Dodge Nitro, and only 5,269 of those sales were Kizashis. For a product that was supposed to keep Suzuki in the game in North America, there’s no way around the fact that Kizashi hasn’t “moved the needle.” On the other hand, Suzuki hasn’t done much to market the Kizashi (outside the pages of R&T anyway), and Suzuki is trying to turn things around with a series of ads that are kind of a weird mix of GM’s “May The Best Car Win” selective comparison strategy and Chrysler’s “World’s Best Vehicle (?)” absurdity. There’s been some mainstream media chatter about Hyundai and Buick’s ability to attract luxury brand buyers now that “value for money is the new black” (gotta love that MSM)… and Suzuki clearly wants in on the anti-snobbery bandwagon. But are these ads enough to put Suzuki on the radar?

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

31 Comments on “Can Suzuki Kick Up Kizashi Sales?...”


  • avatar
    ajla

    Having dealers would help. Plus, the few dealers that still do exist have nothing for inventory.

    According to Autotrader, there are more new Jaguar XJs (150) and Lexus LS460s (167) within 200 miles of me than Kizashis (126).

  • avatar
    ash78

    It’s the Hyundai syndrome, ten times worse. Great product, thin dealer network, weak advertising, and–most of all–a longtime reputation for the “adverse selection” customers…the ones who could afford cars or get financing elsewhere.
     
    Suzuki needs to pay really close attention to how Hyundai overcomes this, then follow suit a couple years behind (sort of like how Hardee’s/Carl’s mimics McDonald’s location strategies).

    • 0 avatar
      dave-the-rave

      Hyundai began their turnaround with the offer of the 10-year warranty, well before the Sonata and current Elantra were on the scene. They basically told the consumer, “We know you don’t trust our quality, and if you’ve been burned you’re unlikely to buy from us again. So we’re giving you a reason to give us another chance.”
      I think Suzuki has the same issue. They shouldn’t be talking about better performance on a single attribute that a BMW or Audi. They need to reassure people that the car won’t fall apart over the next five years. The enthusiast reviews of the Kizashi have been fairly positive, but you don’t even know if Suzuki will be selling/supporting their cars in the US in the near future. Who wants to take that chance?
      Granted, they did find 5,000 risk-takers this year, but there is a much bigger market than that for a mid-sizer that’s more fun to drive than a Camcord.

    • 0 avatar
      KalapanaBlack

      Suzuki has already had a 7 year/100,000 mile warranty in place for five years or more, to ape Hyundai. They advertised it under the alias “America’s Best Warranty.” I believe it is still in place. This was at the beginning of their bubble years, during which they sold the GM-influenced Daewoos (Verona, Reno, Forenza), along with their own Grand Vitara and Aerio. They sold something like 7,500 cars per month at the best of those times, just a few years ago. Of course, those cars weren’t really vehicles that would bring customers back to buy another Suzuki, regardless of who engineered the new one. The Kizashi was ill-timed, being delayed and modified several times due to GM’s on-again off-again investment strategy with Suzuki. Of course, GM eventually sold their shares in 2008, and concurrent development of vehicles stopped. The Kizashi, IIRC, was supposed to go on the Epsilon-II platform that’s underneath the LaCrosse, 9-5, etc. now, but when GM pulled out, Suzuki had to improvise and throw an enlarged SX-4/Sedici platform underneath to bring it to market. I believe the car’s biggest drawback is its in-between size (larger than compact, smaller than even the sub-E segment Fusion/Milan). Cars that fall in the cracks between sizes rarely sell well. Add in spotty marketing, an oddball name, and the already-mentioned lack of dealer network, and the Kizashi really doesn’t have a chance.

      Shame, too, because it’s a nice car. I’m just not sure what it’s meant to be (I don’t think Suzuki knows, either).

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Another ad agency makes the case for dissolving the marketing industry.
     

  • avatar
    redliner

    These ads are great. They follow the same idea behind Hyundai’s “Think about it” ads. Being able to claim your humble sedan is better than more “premim” offerings is a very powerful message.

    BUT…  How many Mercedes drivers do you know who would willingly drive a Suzuki? Audi drivers? If I had to guess I would say not many (any?).
    Compared to the Sonata/Optima, the Kizashi is, smaller, less powerful, achieves slightly worse fuel economy, comes from a brand with a poor dealer network, has a shorter warranty, for about the same money. Value shoppers will buy a Hyundai/Kia and premium buyers will gladly pay the extra $100 a month to lease that 3 series over a Kizashi. Despite being a good car, I see the Kizashi (and Suzuki) going nowhere fast.

    • 0 avatar

      Teutonic snobs are lost cause no matter how you cut it.
      I looked at GV seriously, but they play the same “want useful SUV – pay for tons of useless options” game. If you want the transfer case, pay up for the leather. It’s ridiculous. This may not be very relevant to Kizashi, but on the other hand it shows a bit of Suzuki cluelessness.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    On my way home, about a week ago, a Kizashi pulled out to pass me. It accelerated like no stock sedan I have ever seen. So I pulled out too, and tried to keep up. My acceleration was dismal compared to his. It was so quick, I thought it must be modified special, but there was no markings of any kind. It definitely can scoot. A CUV version might help sales.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian E

      It’s only got 185hp stock, but there’s an aftermarket turbo kit that kicks that up to 290hp or so. Maybe you got passed by a sleeper, or else the Kizashi driver knows how to put his or her foot ALL the way down unlike many other drivers out there.

    • 0 avatar
      jaje

      With only 185 hp stock and 3200lbs to haul around in FWD / AWD fashion – I do not see this car overcoming the laws of physics.  Gearing may provide more brisk acceleration at the expense of mpg (and looking at its highest of 31 mpg highway and 29 mpg for others…it must be so).  That aside, you must be driving something without a lot of get up and go.

  • avatar

    Just the resale values on these would keep me out of a new one. Probably a decent used buy if parts supply hold out for another decade.

  • avatar
    obruni

    too late.
    why did suzuki wait so long to advertise this car? the mind boggles.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    21k ? Then I guess us folks in Norway takes a major portion of their cars. They offer 4wd on all models (or used to at least), they are cheap.  And we have 4-7 months of winter depending on longitude.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    @ Pete Z:” I looked at GV seriously, but they play the same “want useful SUV – pay for tons of useless options” game. If you want the transfer case, pay up for the leather. It’s ridiculous. This may not be very relevant to Kizashi, but on the other hand it shows a bit of Suzuki cluelessness.”
     
    While I’m no fan of Suzuki’s North American marketing, I believe only the first year of the current generation of Grand Vitara (’06) required you (me) to pony up for the fanciest version to get the transfer case.  I think that they very quickly offered it on almost all the GV versions.
    That said, I hold them accountable for never offering a version with a 5-spd manual, extra clearance and skid plates.  And maybe a diesel.  Just dumb, but on the other hand, North America is only a very small corner of their market.
     

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    I hate to be a member of a tired chorus. But Suzuki needs to…
    1) Offer a better warranty than Hyundai.
    2) Reduce their NA presence to no more than 3 or 4 models that are truly Japanese in design.
    3) Expand their dealer network in places where a cheap AWD model would be welcome.
    4) Start selling a subcompact model (Swift) that can compete with the top dogs.
    5) Turbocharge their engines and start identifying the automobiles with their powersport heritage.
    A lot of folks still want a sporty AWD vehicle that isn’t as expensive as a Subaru and comes with an exceptional warranty. If Suzuki can successfully fill that niche, they will be on deck for the new generation of Yuppies within a decade.

  • avatar
    DPerkins

    Here in Canada the Kizashi comes only one way – loaded (same for the Equator).  As a result they are very expensive in a market that favours less expensive car offerings.

    Suzuki, introduce some introductory models, get the price down, and let folks know that you exist.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Suzuki needs to turbo this and bring over the Swift w/a legit motor… that will get people into their showrooms

  • avatar
    YYYYguy

    The ads are interesting, but it’s all about product.  Suzuki just doesn’t have a product that stands out anymore.  Their styling is very conservative and blends in with all the rest.    Gone are the days of the Samurai that had utility and could get upper 30s mpg with some style.  What does Suzuki stand for?  For me, they make some decent motors.  That’s about it.

  • avatar
    Beelzebubba

    I’m afraid Suzuki is doomed at this point.  Their dealership network has been reduced to a size where it’s no longer viable.  Their unholy alliance with GM, which resulted in a lineup of Daewoo models being sold as Suzukis (Verona, Forenza, Reno) helped cement their reputation as a bottom-rung brand destined to fill rental fleets and, eventually, “Buy Here, Pay Here” lots.
    Even if you can find a dealer, there is little chance you’ll find the trim level of Kizashi that you’re wanting…much less the color, transmission or FWD/AWD that you prefer!  The vast majority of Suzuki dealership owners also own other, more lucrative dealerships in the same metro area.  They use the Suzuki franchise as either a training ground for their new, untrained and inexperienced sales persons OR they banish their most annoying, incompetent and rude employees to the this wasteland.
    Among enthusiasts who realize that the Kizashi is actually a very good car, a great source of apprehension is whether Suzuki will remain in the U.S. market in the coming years.  Will warranty service and parts be easy to obtain two or three years from now?  Not to mention what would happen to resale value if it became an ‘orphan’ brand.  Considering that the 5-year projected residual is lower than all but the Mitsubishi Galant and 2010 Kia Optima (and probably the Chrysler 200), it’s already a financial gamble.  Buying one only makes sense if you plan to keep it for the length of the loan and beyond…
    I’d like to see Suzuki survive, even thrive, in North America.  There has been speculation for a few years now that either Suzuki or Mitsubishi would throw in the towel in this market.  I’d much rather keep Suzuki around…to hell with Mitsubishi!  The SX4 needs a little work (better fuel economy and perhaps a bit more power) but it’s already a hell of a lot better than half of its competitors…but nobody knows it even exists!  The same goes for the Kizashi.  Mazda has learned this lesson the hard way- they can’t even move 3,000 Mazda6s per month, but the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry both sell well over 20,000 per month!  The Mazda6 is arguably the best car in the mid-size class, but without advertising, it never makes it onto most shopper’s radar….
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      jaje

      It’s nice that they are comparing the Kizashi to much more expensive and nicer cars – and the one spec on the sheet the Suzuki is better at.  With so much Daewoo and GM platform cars sold through their non-existent network, nobody has this brand on their radar for vehicles with more than 2 wheels anymore.

  • avatar
    bevo

    Suzuki needs to return to its Sidekick roots. I bought a Sidekick. The damn thing lasted nine years without complaint or incident. Unfortunately, they have no four banger truck or SUV in their current line up. Too bad.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      They have the Jimny, but don’t sell it here.

    • 0 avatar
      KalapanaBlack

      Check that again. The 2011 Grand Vitara is 4-cylinder only. It’s odd. The current generation started as V6-only (a weak 170-ish hp engine) in 2006. Since then, they introduced a new, ~220 hp V6, and 164 hp four, and then just last year (2010) a new 3.2 V6 with 230 hp, and now, for 2011, they eliminated all but the four (making 166 hp now). The base version comes with a manual, too, for $19,900.

  • avatar
    shaker

    I came within a hair’s breadth of buying an SX4 a couple of years ago, but it was just a bit too small for me. A couple of women I know have them, and like them… Suzuki probably overstepped their market offering an “enthusiast” sedan when all you heard people in the U.S. asking for was the “euro” Swift.

  • avatar
    shihkang

    I second the comments about bringing over the Swift. While in Taiwan over the summer you see the swift everywhere, it looks great.

  • avatar
    ffdr4

    I don’t know about the US, but in Canada, Suzuki dealers have a well earned reputation for poor dealer service, which keeps a lot of buyers away even if they have the right product.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    +1, ffdr4

  • avatar
    brettc

    A guy at my job just got rid of his Toyota Echo and ended up buying a used SX-4. He said he likes the car, but the fuel economy is horrible. I looked it up on fueleconomy.gov and I was surprised that the EPA ratings for it were so dismal for such a small car. I agree that they should offer the Swift. Although when the CAMI plant was building the Swift/Metro/Sprint/Firefly years ago, no one wanted them. So maybe they shouldn’t offer the Swift. But either way, Suzuki needs to either make themselves known or just go away. Seems like they’re already well on their way to the “go away” path.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India