By on November 5, 2012
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(NSFW language)

Months ago, we began our Suzuki Death Watch, and today, we hear the executioner’s song. Suzuki’s North American distribution arm filed for bankruptcy, and will end automotive sales in the United States. Slow sales, an unfavorable exchange rate and a limited lineup of vehicles can all be blamed for the demise of a company that was ignored all too often. Luckily, Suzuki’s motorcycle and powersports business remain intact. We’ll have more tomorrow.

 

 

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70 Comments on “Suzuki Death Watch 6: It’s Official, Suzuki Is No More...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Another one bites the dust…

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Well… as long as we still have the motorcycles.

    • 0 avatar
      jconli1

      That was a close one, though. When easy credit dried up in ’07, the Big 4 Japanese motorcycle manufacturers were hit very hard. Suzuki skipped 2010 and part of 2011 altogether because there were so many new ’07s-’09s still on the floor (among other reasons). It’s turning around now, but they’ve lost quite a bit of footing against the European brands.

  • avatar
    tatracitroensaab

    lol this is sad. i was kind of enjoying having an irrelevant car company just hanging around. well, at least we still have mitsubishi to still speculate about….

    i really do hope that suzuki makes it back though…

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Mitsu may be next, the sign will be whether they attempt North or South American production, as Honda just announced for the Fit, and VW is looking into for Audi/VeeDubs. A serious player needs to be looking into this in order to compete in the Americas, a bit player doesn’t have the capital.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        I think Mitsu would want to fill up the DSM plant before opening another one.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Which plant is this? This is in N. or S. America?

        I’m not up on my Japanese conglomerate assets like I used to be.

      • 0 avatar
        ranwhenparked

        @28-Cars-Later

        Normal, Illinois – it’s been Mitsubishi’s primary manufacturing site for volume North American cars since 1988.

        It was originally a 50-50 joint venture with Chrysler called Diamond-Star Motors, aka DSM (Get it? Diamonds like in Mitsubishi’s logo and star as in Chrysler’s Pentastar, much more clever than NUMMI or AutoAlliance), but it’s entirely Mitsubishi now, the official name is Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America Inc., which is less catchy.

        They build the Outlander Sport, and were building the Galant, but I think that may have been discontinued?

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Thanks guys, have to plead ignorance. I knew of Mitsubishi’s 80s and 90s era alliances with Chrysler, but I was not aware they ever built product in North America, let alone in a NUMMI style fashion. Such an investment complicates a quick Mitsubishi exit, and yet they aren’t really succeeding in the marketplace. Should be interesting.

      • 0 avatar
        jaje

        Anyone remember when Mitsubishi was growing double digits year over year (late 90′s / early 00′s). Their primary growth was sales to fleets and giving credit and rolling over negative equity into the new vehicle to customers even the Detroit 3 turned down? That short term sighted plan set them up for failure of epic proportions as even the D3 are still recovering from the same tactic and they are much bigger.

  • avatar
    Vance Torino

    The niche for “North American Dacia” is even more wide open. I had a dream that Indian Maruti could produce the Swift for a steal…

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      We have Dacia in the form of the Versa. Not just the same concept but the same platform from the same company.

    • 0 avatar
      chicagoland

      We also have Kia, and year old used rental cars for ‘cheap wheels’.

      Dacia would bomb, just like Yugo and Hyundai Excels.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        IIRC, the Hyundai Excel had the most successful launch of any imported car company in US history. The problem wasn’t lack of cheap car demand. The problem was that they burned the first couple hundred thousand buyers to walk in the door.

      • 0 avatar
        ranwhenparked

        Yugo and Hyundai both sold really well – at first. It was only after reliability and quality control issues started surfacing in the hands of ordinary owners that their sales and reputations nosedived.

        Their initial success would seem to prove that their is a market for a very cheap, no-frills car as long as it’s well made and reliable, which Dacias are.

        Believe it or not, but there are many, many people out there that have a sort of irrational fear of buying a used car, but that still don’t want to swing the payments for an expensive new one.

      • 0 avatar
        tatracitroensaab

        except the logan is actually considered to be a pretty good car… i think that the versa is a better fit for america because its big, fuel efficient, and cheap. the logan is good but its not as big as the versa. actually i bet that the dacia duster would do amazingly. it looks like a truck, sips gas like a car, is cheap, and i havent heard of reliability issues….

  • avatar
    L'avventura

    I think we need to see either a purge or consolidation of the fringe players in the US market. Mitsubishi should be next.

    It really is a good think for Suzuki’s bottom line. Suzuki and Mitsubishi are strong in India and SE Asia respectively, so they’ll survive, and may even thrive as the region grows.

    But both companies seriously need to consolidate with a larger automaker. Its a shame that the VW deal didn’t work better for Suzuki, but Suzuki needed to exit the US market a long time ago.

    • 0 avatar
      don1967

      It’s kinda sad that Suzuki was chosen by the market for extinction, after years of building good little niche vehicles for affordable off-road adventures. But what’s really sad is Chrysler and GM being propped up by taxpayers so they can continue building Nitros and Equinoxes.

      • 0 avatar
        L'avventura

        In fairness, we’ve seen a bunch of brands under Detroit fade or disappear recently; Mercury, Plymouth, Oldsmobile, Saturn, SAAB, and Hummer. Volvo, Jaguar, and Land Rover only survive on the grace, and money, of Chinese and Indian companies.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Volvo, MG, Lotus, perhaps SAAB, and possibly JLR will only live on as hood ornaments for Chinese designed and built models. I say possibly for JLR because if Tata simply wanted to scalp the brand and put the leaping cat onto its Nano-sque junk they would have done it by now. I suspect as long as JLR generates buzz and positive cash flow it will remain somewhat independent.

      • 0 avatar
        22_RE_Speedwagon

        To understand the death of Suzuki you need to examine the Forenza evidence.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      The Suzuki-VW deal collapsed only because of egos. I don’t think Osamu Suzuki’s and Ferdinand Piech’s fit into the same room.

      It’s a good thing short-term for Suzuki’s finances as they have been bleeding money in the US. But they are now out of the US (and, I presume, Canada), and they are near-nonexistent in Europe, so they are effectively a regional player. Probably after Osamu Suzuki is gone, they’ll be snapped up by one of the big players looking for SE Asia market share.

      • 0 avatar
        L'avventura

        The automotive market has increasingly become a zero-sum game. Not all parties are going to survive. Marchionne thinks only 5 will remain at the end.

        Egos aside, Suzuki needs to find greater volume. Their entire business is kei cars in Japan and their JV in India. VW was clearly not a good match as they likely intended on gutting Suzuki.

        Beyond Suzuki, there needs to be further consolidation in first-world players. PSA Peugeot Citroën, Fiat-Chrysler, Opel, Mitsubishi, and Mazda (maybe even Honda, BMW, Mercedes can be put on the list).

        For the Japanese, Suzuki-Mitsubishi-Mazda may be a good tie-up as they contribute different strengths; Suzuki mini-cars/India, Mitsubishi EVs/SE Asia, and Mazda SkyActiv technology as well as better performance in mature markets. But even that wouldn’t be enough to thrive in the next decade.

      • 0 avatar
        zekele

        > But they are now out of the US (and, I presume, Canada)

        Suzuki Canada have sent out a press release saying that they are remaining open and are not affected by the US closure:

        http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/american-suzuki-motor-to-file-for-bankruptcy-protection-canadian-operations-untouched/article4954426/

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    This is sad. They deserve better.

  • avatar
    Fenian

    Sad, but obviously not unexpected. My local Subaru dealership used to be a Subaru-Isuzu-Suzuki dealership. At least they still have Subaru.

    • 0 avatar
      MrWhopee

      Man, they do have a knack for choosing loser brands (Suzuki AND Isuzu?) Thankfully Subaru is doing well.

    • 0 avatar
      d524zoom-zoom

      to Fenian: is the dealer you mention WGSIS…??? on Big Bend???
      if so then we are neighbors LOL…and to echo a previous post, I worked at a multi-franchised dealer that started selling Suzuki’s in 2002 and the Forenza and the Verona were total pieces of crap. I remember replacing engines and transmissions on both regularly. Once after waiting for more than a week for an engine to “show-up” for a customer’s Verona it was installed and when backing it out for the test drive the transmission took a total dump! But not really a Suzuki problem as both of those vehicle’s were made by Daewoo. We dumped Suzuki in 2006 and added Audi to the portfolio. Yea!!

      • 0 avatar
        Fenian

        That would be the dealership I am referring to neighbor.

      • 0 avatar
        porschespeed

        I do so love you crazy youngsters. It was WG FIAT back in my day… Scooby-doos? Those are the new cars. Suzies? Moved to that abandoned Clark station across from the old Pizza-Hut which is now a florist.

        My day being when whats-his-name used to commute his Lotus Seven replica(?) over that crappy L Station Bridge in any weather, with a helmet, goggles, and maybe the tonneau cover for the passenger side when it was rain/snowing…

  • avatar
    Speed3

    At least Mazda seems to be able to make it. Don’t expect Mitsubishi to survive for much longer (and I’d add Volvo to that category as well)

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    Too bad. If the unibody, independent rear suspension Grand Vitara can be considered a station wagon then, with its rear-wheel drive, manual transmission and base price under $20,000 it IS the mythical rear-wheel drive, manual transmission station wagon for under $20K that the internet is in love with.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    It’s too bad the U.S still needs a good value priced car company. Sad we never got the newer Swift as a entry-level hatch to compete with Rio, Accent. Fiesta is a fine car but can get pricey with options.

    A Kizashi AWD fully loaded at my neighborhood dealer listed at $28k was $8k off now has to be at least $10-12k off.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Suzuki sedan listed at $28K, even $20K with all incentives? Found the problem.

      Too much better stuff out there at the $20K price point. An honest 15 or 16 would have reeled in new customers and over time would have allowed them to creep their prices up to the industry norm… too little too late.

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        Yes, but compared to it’s nearest competition say a Jetta which loaded is in the mid-$20′s and does not offer AWD. Though if they did list them lower they could be what Hyundai once was or as the old Subaru ad said “Inexpensive and built to stay that way”.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        $20K for a loaded Kizashi AWD is a fantastic deal. It’s a nice car, not a cheap SX4 econobox. But at the original $28K, it’s no surprise it didn’t sell well.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    The only buyers of ‘value priced’ cars are high credit risk folks. New car ownership isn’t an entitlement. There are plenty of used cars for people who need to save $ or don’t qualify for new car loans.

    When cars are nearly given away, and have poor resale, it’s time to close the doors. GM?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I agree with your second point but I think the used car market is slowly dwindling… at least the supply has been for the past year or so, as evidenced by some of the prices I’ve seen at the auction and in Mr Lang’s auction posts.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Too bad…but hell, all the dealers around here either closed or moved to hidden places….

    I really liked the Kizashi and SX4 though…obviously not enough to buy one. Then that would have given me 3 orphans (Isuzu, Saab, Suzuki….)….

  • avatar
    Steve65

    All I can think of to say is “that sucks”. Fewer options is not a good thing, and there was nothing fundamentally wrong with what they were offering here. And I wish I’d had the chance to pick up an SX4. Maybe the right one will drop into my life one day.

  • avatar
    Seán Moloney

    Suzuki is no more? My my, what a very misleading headline. Just because a company ceases its American operations does not mean they have been wiped off the face of the earth.

  • avatar
    Mr Nosy

    It’s very easy to ignore something,if that something has only proven itself capable of being consistently half-assed when trying to be noticed. Japan Suzuki,for all the time spent here,never seemed to carry out any plan to fruition in the US market. Small,nimble cars & SUVs,then badge-engineered Daewoos & GM SUVs,then a sporty CUV & mid size car(Kinda crowded there,already.),a dated SUV,and a small truck(Re-badge,again.). No attempt at building continuity in one single model to strengthen the brand.Erratic dealer closings/expansions. Tupac (Real,or Hologram) would’ve probably not noticed this perennial back up dancer’s passing.

  • avatar
    jf1979

    Hmm, need a new tow vehicle, off to search my local dealer’s inventory for deals on one of their Nissan Frontier variants, the name escapes me I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen one in the wild.

    • 0 avatar
      vent-L-8

      Equator, considered one last summer. Problem was that dealer told me that manual tranny was no longer available (even though it was still in the catalogue) unless I got the Nissan model.

    • 0 avatar
      luvmyv8

      That would be the Suzuki Equator. I’ve seen one; just one. I’m not trying to be funny here, but I’ve actually quite literally seen more legit Nissan Skyline GTR’s in Southern California in the metal then this Nissan re-badge jobbie….. and believe me, Skyline’s are very rare here thanks to what happened to MotoRex and R33′s and R34′s stick out like sore thumbs.

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    If Suzuki wouldve spent the ad budget on the Kizashi on bringing the Swift to NA, their auto operations would have flourished.

    Instead, they relied on eskimos to try to sell a decent but subpar competitor to the 3 series! and TSX! Really?

    Ill call this one a Fail, boys.

  • avatar
    vent-L-8

    i kind of likes the recent commercials, shame. Less choice is always bad in my book.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    Sad to see Suzuki leave – but the past 10 years has been a North American train wreck for the brand.

    They never really had a large dealer network of their own. When GM axed the Geo brand, Suzuki lost most of their North American sales outlets. Add some missteps – like dropping the Swift and replacing it with the butt-ugley Aerio, which flopped. Then there were those wonderful Daewoo rebadges.

    I had a second hand Geo Metro for a couple of years. Sold old it for a profit when the price of gasoline spiked in 2007. I thought about buying a second hand Chevrolet Tracker that was up for grabs in 2009 – but my concern was parts availability and pricing. Instead I went with a 4 cylinder Mazda Tribute, which shares its mechanical bits with the Ford Escape.

    Like Mitsu – Suzuki to me at least is and was a subprime brand. In the past decade, Hyundai and Kia have improved their North America offerings to the point that it makes little sense to buy a new Mitsu or Suzuki.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Suzuki USA calling it quits? Hmmm…Truthfully, I didn’t know they still sold cars, as I don’t recall seeing any dealers here in the Cincinnati area, at least where I have lived for the last 20 years.

    As PrincipalDan says, I suppose the bikes will still be sold, but as I’m not a biker, it makes no difference to me.

    Now, who’s next? Mitsubishi? What’s being produced at the former Diamond Star plant in Normal, IL? Galants? Who buys them?

    Anyway, the shakeout continues…

  • avatar
    brettc

    I’m really surprised it’s taken them this long to realize they’re losing in the U.S.

    I’m also surprised that Canadian sales are continuing since the Canadian market is so much smaller and only has a total of 60 dealerships across Canada. But Suzukis are better suited to Canadian automotive tastes so it’s understandable if they’re still doing “okay” in Canada with moving a whole 500 units a month.

    As others have said, Mitsubishi has to be next. I’m going to guess sometime in the first half of 2013 since maybe the Suzuki decision will make them realize they have no hope either.

  • avatar

    I can’t see the Canadian Market helping this Company, staying open as someone as stated, I rather doubt it!

  • avatar
    KayakerNC

    Current owners just saw their trade-in values being pushed off the cliff.
    Suzuki USA could have done a whole lot better, they had a perfect example in Hyundai/Kia on success building in the US market.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Well that was quick. Only 6 Death Watches? New low score!

  • avatar
    letanon

    I am wondering what will happen with Suzuki here in Puerto Rico. Suzuki is one of the biggest sellers in the Island. Also the Suzuki distributor here is not the same USA distributor but, and this is a big but, PR is a USA territory and as such all cars sold here must comply with the requirements of the federal goverment as any car sold in any of the 50 states. I have not read or seen anything in the local news regarding what will happen to Suzuki here. This is going to be interesting. The same would be true if Mitsubishi also goes down.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Aside from the Kizashi, I don’t think there is a single Suzuki model to miss. Great time to pick up a rebadged Frontier on the cheap though.

    Good time to pick up a Kizashi, too. Anyone lamenting the cheapening of the Jetta should have flocked to Suzuki. The Kizashi is about as close as you can get to a MkV Jetta. Skip the AWD and get the manual tranny and it wasn’t a bad deal even at MSRP.

  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    Great motorcycles. So-so cars.

  • avatar
    86er

    So, this company sold cars you say? First I’ve heard of it.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    So who will do service on their cars? I’m sure the used ones will see Saturn-like depreciation soon, so I could pick up a 6MT Kizashi Sport for next to nothing in a few years when my TSX has its 10th birthday.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      “I could pick up a 6MT Kizashi Sport for next to nothing”

      Or not. Given how few of them were sold, it’s likely that a lot of them went to people who wanted them specifically, and not just “a car”. With resale values tanked, it’s even more likely that those people will just hang onto them throughout their useful life, rather than take the bath on accelerated depreciation.

      Me? I’m hoping to find an SX4 5-door in orange, with manual transmission. I suspect they sold about 5 of them, so I’m not holding my breath.


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