The Truth About Cars » Suzuki http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 28 Aug 2015 11:00:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Suzuki http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Suzuki Wanted to Sell Re-badged Jetta Hybrid in the US http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/suzuki-wanted-to-sell-re-badged-jetta-hybrid-in-the-us/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/suzuki-wanted-to-sell-re-badged-jetta-hybrid-in-the-us/#comments Wed, 05 Aug 2015 20:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1134585 In a detailed report on the failed alliance between Suzuki and Volkswagen, Automotive News reports that the Japanese automaker wanted to re-badge and sell Volkswagen Jetta Hybrids in the U.S. before the company eventually decided to close up its local sales arm. The report, which came out on Monday, is a play-by-play of what happened […]

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2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

In a detailed report on the failed alliance between Suzuki and Volkswagen, Automotive News reports that the Japanese automaker wanted to re-badge and sell Volkswagen Jetta Hybrids in the U.S. before the company eventually decided to close up its local sales arm.

The report, which came out on Monday, is a play-by-play of what happened from the time Suzuki CEO Osamu Suzuki and Volkswagen AG CEO Martin Winterkorn first shook hands in 2009, to when Suzuki announced it was cutting its losses, up to today as the automakers struggle over VW’s 19.9-percent ownership of the Japanese automaker.

The original agreement, which would open the door for Suzuki to use advantaged Volkswagen powertrain technology while also giving VW a view into Suzuki’s Indian success, is said to have not been respected by Volkswagen.

From Automotive News:

“The alliance is meaningless,” Harayama told his interlocutor, according to internal Suzuki documents chronicling the demise of the alliance that were obtained by Automotive News.

“Our engineers have lost the desire to cooperate with VW.”

A tipping point, Harayama added, came during an earlier top management meeting. The Suzuki side presented VW CEO Martin Winterkorn a list of complaints. But the tactic backfired.

According to Suzuki’s version of events, instead of contemplating Suzuki’s suggestions for mending relations, the ticked-off German surprised the Japanese by pounding the table in irritation.

“With this, we understood that it is impossible to work with top management to resolve the front-line problems,” Harayama told an off-guard Wittig, who insisted he hadn’t come to the meeting to negotiate with Harayama. “We want a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer about whether we will hold joint discussions,” Harayama demanded before excusing himself to catch his flight home.

The conclusion of the failed alliance won’t be known until a decision is made by the ICC International Court of Arbitration. However, there are some interesting tidbits to take away from the report, such as Suzuki’s want for Volkswagen cars to badge as their own.

At one point in the negotiations, Suzuki hoped VW would supply its Jetta Hybrid sedan and other vehicles through Suzuki’s North American sales network, the documents revealed. Tweaking its own cars to meet American specifications increased Suzuki’s development man-hours by half.

“It is becoming difficult for Suzuki, a company focused on compact cars, to bring together a North American product line sufficient to continue operating a N. American sales network,” Suzuki said in one document before the tie-up that outlined the items it wanted incorporated into a VW agreement. “The development cost burden is heavy.”

If you have a chance (and a subscription to Automotive News), the report is worth a read. However, you might want to read Matt Hardigree’s take on reading business stories immediately after.

 

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Suzuki May Finally Climb Out From Under VW http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/suzuki-may-finally-climb-vw/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/suzuki-may-finally-climb-vw/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 18:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1133577 Hedge fund investor Daniel Loeb has purchased a minority stake in Suzuki Motor Corp., which may mean the automaker could have a ruling on its nearly 5-year arbitration with Volkswagen, Bloomberg Business is reporting. The unspecified investment in Suzuki by the billionaire Loeb, who is one of Japan’s wealthy business elite, could be a sign […]

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2003 Suzuki Wagon R

Hedge fund investor Daniel Loeb has purchased a minority stake in Suzuki Motor Corp., which may mean the automaker could have a ruling on its nearly 5-year arbitration with Volkswagen, Bloomberg Business is reporting.

The unspecified investment in Suzuki by the billionaire Loeb, who is one of Japan’s wealthy business elite, could be a sign that a ruling following June’s completion of arbitration is imminent. For years, Suzuki remained “paralyzed” as the procedure slogged on.

Suzuki has a significant automotive presence in emerging markets and India.

Shares of Suzuki jumped in Tokyo trading on the news.

In 2009, when the alliance between Volkswagen and Suzuki was announced, both automakers stood to gain from each other — on paper. Volkswagen would benefit from Suzuki’s growth in emerging markets, including its relationship and distribution in India with Maruti Suzuki. The Japanese automaker could benefit from VW’s vast resources and technology. The relationship soured quickly after.

The remaining issue between VW and Suzuki could be the nearly 20-percent ownership stake the German automaker has in the Japanese automaker. According to Bloomberg, Suzuki may have enough cash on hand to buy back the remaining shares if a London-based arbitration court allows it, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Either way, we could be seeing a lot more of Suzuki — which is still Japan’s fourth-largest automaker, by the way — real soon.

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Mitsubishi Doomsday Clock – When Do We Start Counting? UPDATE: Right Now. http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/mitsubishi-doomsday-clock-when-do-we-start-counting/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/mitsubishi-doomsday-clock-when-do-we-start-counting/#comments Fri, 24 Jul 2015 17:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1124761 UPDATE: Mitsubishi has officially announced they will close the Normal, Ill. plant and are looking for a “strategic buyer.” This article was originally written a couple of hours before the announcement. Our Mitsubishi Doomsday Countdown starts right now, putting Mitsubishi’s Best-Before Date at Tuesday, January 16, 2018. When Suzuki decided to stop building their last self-produced […]

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2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport now Made in America

UPDATE: Mitsubishi has officially announced they will close the Normal, Ill. plant and are looking for a “strategic buyer.” This article was originally written a couple of hours before the announcement. Our Mitsubishi Doomsday Countdown starts right now, putting Mitsubishi’s Best-Before Date at Tuesday, January 16, 2018.

When Suzuki decided to stop building their last self-produced model in North America, the seven-seater XL7, in the midst of the U.S. economic crisis, it was just another nail in the coffin for that looked to be inevitable — the end of Suzuki sales in North America.

The CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada — a plant that still cranks out GM products to this day — was an integral part of Suzuki’s success and ultimate demise. Much like the Normal, Illinois Mitsubishi facility, the CAMI plant started as a joint venture between General Motors and its new Japanese BFF.

General Motors, like Chrysler, wanted to leverage product from Japanese automakers. Chrysler went after sports cars while GM affixed the badges of many brands — Chevrolet, GMC, Pontiac, Geo, Passport and Asuna — to the grilles of Sidekicks and Swifts to sell on the lots of its own dealers.

The CAMI plant gave Suzuki a local presence. People bought the Sidekick and its GM-badged brethren in droves — right up until the point they didn’t.

Suzuki, too little and too late, cut its ties with CAMI on May 12, 2009. However, the Normal story is a fair bit different, as it wasn’t Mitsubishi to pull out of the joint venture. In 1991, Chrysler divested part of its share in the joint venture and plant, giving Mitsubishi overall management control. Two years later, Chrysler would sell the remainder of Diamond-Star Motors to Mitsubishi, effectively ending the formal joint-venture partnership. DSM ceased to exist in 1995 when the joint-venture company was renamed Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America.

For Suzuki, it took 907 days after the end of manufacturing before the company packed it in for good in the U.S.

During the economic crisis, I was one of the many who also predicted the end of Mitsubishi in America.

Today, I’m not so sure.

Mitsubishi is making gains in sales, even if those gains are mostly on low-margin products. Also, there is a fair amount of new product on the horizon if the rumor mill is to be believed, and it could prop up the small Japanese automaker long enough to sort out its issues before the next inevitable recession.

Maybe.

Will Mitsubishi meet the same fate as Suzuki? Are we in for a 907-day wait before its ultimate end? We will see. If/when Mitsubishi makes a formal announcement on the future of Normal, we will start the clock.

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Suzuki CEO Appoints Toshihiro Suzuki To President, COO Roles http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/suzuki-ceo-appoints-toshihiro-suzuki-to-president-coo-roles/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/suzuki-ceo-appoints-toshihiro-suzuki-to-president-coo-roles/#comments Tue, 30 Jun 2015 16:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1102817 Suzuki chairman and CEO Osamu Suzuki announced Tuesday the appointment of his son and likely successor, Toshihiro Suzuki, to the role of president. Toshihiro’s appointment is part of Osamu’s plan of bringing aboard a younger management team over the next five years to guide the company, Automotive News reports, with Osamu overseeing the changeover: We […]

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Osamu and Toshihiro Suzuki

Suzuki chairman and CEO Osamu Suzuki announced Tuesday the appointment of his son and likely successor, Toshihiro Suzuki, to the role of president.

Toshihiro’s appointment is part of Osamu’s plan of bringing aboard a younger management team over the next five years to guide the company, Automotive News reports, with Osamu overseeing the changeover:

We thought we needed to rejuvenate ourselves, and in that case it would be best if I left first. But I am so full of conceit that I cannot do that.

Osamu took on the mantle of president and chief operations officer following Hiroshi Tsuda’ 2008 resignation over poor health. His son, who observers see as his successor since the 2007 passing of son-in-law Hirotaka Ono, will take the mantle July 1.

Toshihiro headed the company’s Iwata factory west of Tokyo and managed mini and compact car production at Kosai early in his career, after which he acted as the company’s liaison at General Motors beginning in 2001. There, he helped facilitate exchanges of technology between the two companies, including those surrounding a jointly developed FCV. GM would divest itself of its 20 percent of Suzuki by 2008, a decade after first agreeing to a joint venture with the company.

Whether Toshihiro or another ultimately takes the helm of Suzuki, Osamu’s successor will have much to carry upon their shoulders, such as defending its stronghold in India while pursuing newer markets, and acquiring financing via new partnerships for new, greener powertrain technologies. They will also have the burden of handling the fallout from the dissolution of the company’s partnership with Volkswagen; the case recently finished arbitration, with both parties awaiting a ruling.

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While You Were Sleeping: Phaeton Axed in UK, Porsche 911 GT With A Stick and GM Is Down in China http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/while-you-were-sleeping-phaeton-axed-in-uk-porsche-911-gt-with-a-stick-and-gm-is-down-in-china/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/while-you-were-sleeping-phaeton-axed-in-uk-porsche-911-gt-with-a-stick-and-gm-is-down-in-china/#comments Thu, 04 Jun 2015 15:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1084185 The Volkswagen Phaeton, the pride of former chairman Piëch, has been discontinued in the UK. Don’t worry, though, if you’re one of those people who enjoy such understated luxury. Volkswagen is still planning a next-generation version of the car. Here’s what happened overnight. Volkswagen Phaeton axed in the UK (Autocar) The current-generation VW Phaeton has […]

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2011 VW Phaeton

The Volkswagen Phaeton, the pride of former chairman Piëch, has been discontinued in the UK. Don’t worry, though, if you’re one of those people who enjoy such understated luxury. Volkswagen is still planning a next-generation version of the car.

Here’s what happened overnight.

2011 VW PhaetonVolkswagen Phaeton axed in the UK (Autocar)
The current-generation VW Phaeton has been removed from the company’s UK lineup due to engines not meeting Euro 6 emissions.

opensesameThis Hacked Kid’s Toy Opens Garage Doors in Seconds (WIRED)
Using the pictures Mattel IM-ME kid’s texting toy, security researcher Samy Kamkar has developed a way to open garage doors relying on an insecure “fixed code” system.

Chevy-Cruze-SalesChevy has Sold 3.5 Million Cruzes Globally (AutoGuide)
“Globally, the bow-tie brand has sold more than 3.5 million copies of its Cruze compact car, making this nameplate their best-selling automobile in the world.”

lesabreWatching This 1990s Buick LeSabre Get Thrown Around Off-Road Makes Us Wonder If Grandma Regrets Loaning Out Her Car (BlipShift)
Rally LeSabre? Okay.

Maruti-Suzuki-Celerio-diesel-0Suzuki Builds Its First Diesel Engine, A 0.8L 2-Cylinder Rated At 47 HP (CarScoops)
But it does has a whopping 92 (!!!) pound-feet of torque.

Formula 1 Testing, JerezF1 refuelling decision imminent (Motorsport.com)
Teams are discussing the possibility in efforts to liven “the show”.

img_4613Unique vintage Alfa Romeo took $2-million to restore (Driving.ca)
“Timelessly elegant Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Speciale was a complete basketcase, but the story behind it makes the car truly unique.”

B99276667Z.1_20150604082658_000_GQBH60D4.1-0GM China sales drop 4% in May (The Detroit News)
Drop blamed on “vehicle model changeovers and phasing out of older vehicles.”

porsche-911-spy-nov-2014-194_0‘Pure’ Porsche 911 GT planned (Autocar)
New GT model will get a manual transmission and be distinct from other 911’s with GT badging.

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QOTD: Which Manufacturer Has Most Lost Its Way? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/qotd-which-manufacturer-has-most-lost-its-way/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/qotd-which-manufacturer-has-most-lost-its-way/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 11:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1071938 If someone mentions the name Buick, a certain image is conjured: comfortable, plush, American motoring just on the blue-collar side of luxury. Buicks used to be the working man’s Cadillac, an association doctors leveraged when making house calls. After all, showing up in a Cadillac would really show the patient how much you were about to […]

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2015 Buick Encore

If someone mentions the name Buick, a certain image is conjured: comfortable, plush, American motoring just on the blue-collar side of luxury. Buicks used to be the working man’s Cadillac, an association doctors leveraged when making house calls. After all, showing up in a Cadillac would really show the patient how much you were about to screw them upon leaving the bill on the nightstand.

But, in more recent times, Buick has become more of a Chevrolet+. Taut suspensions, journo brown interiors and lukewarm engine choices. Oh, and there’s the Encore, a cute ute powered by one of the roughest, smallest engines you can buy in North America. What gives?

Before people start thinking I’m on a General Motors focused tirade, there are a number of other marques out there as well that have seemingly “lost their way.”

Honda, for instance, used to be a technical powerhouse of gung-ho engineers turning efficiency into fun. Instead, we are given the CR-Z to chew on for years instead of a properly fun hatchback to act as the spiritual successor to the CRX.

Suzuki was another company that lost its appeal with customers as they chased larger and larger models. Sure, the Grand Vitara wasn’t a bad truck and the driving dynamics embodied by the Kizashi were fairly spot on. But, when the Samurai and Sidekick died, Suzuki abandoned the segment they were best known for: rough, tumble, pure off-roaders that were dead simple to own and operate.

Which manufacturer do you think has most lost its way?

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Suzuki Recalls 2M Amid Reports Of Smoking Ignitions http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/suzuki-recalls-2m-amid-reports-smoking-ignitions/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/suzuki-recalls-2m-amid-reports-smoking-ignitions/#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 22:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1051009 Suzuki is recalling a record 2 million vehicles to replace ignition switches amid reports of smoke and fumes being emitted from the part. The recall adds 1,873,000 vehicles to the 168,000 previously recalled late last month, Reuters reports. Both figures apply to nine models made in Japan, including the Chevrolet Cruze, Mazda AZ-Wagon, Mazda Carol, […]

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2003 Suzuki Wagon R

Suzuki is recalling a record 2 million vehicles to replace ignition switches amid reports of smoke and fumes being emitted from the part.

The recall adds 1,873,000 vehicles to the 168,000 previously recalled late last month, Reuters reports. Both figures apply to nine models made in Japan, including the Chevrolet Cruze, Mazda AZ-Wagon, Mazda Carol, and Suzuki’s own Alto, Wagon R and Swift. The recall for the latter three covers vehicles built between 1998 and 2009.

Another 133,700 models in the new recall were sold overseas in Australia and Europe, including the aforementioned Swift, Alto and Cruze.

Thus far, 67 reports of smoking switches have been reported, including 18 in police cars. The reports have all come from Japan.

[Photo credit: Kuha455405/Wikipedia]

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Junkyard Find: 2001 Chevrolet Tracker ZR-2 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/junkyard-find-2001-chevrolet-tracker-zr-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/junkyard-find-2001-chevrolet-tracker-zr-2/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 14:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=961497 The second-gen Chevrolet Tracker, a badge-engineered version of the Suzuki Vitara and the descendent of the Geo Tracker Suzuki Sidekick sibling, was sold all over the world with many nameplates. It was never much of a big seller in the United States, so this ZR-2 is an unusual Junkyard Find. It will tow a semi! […]

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09 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe second-gen Chevrolet Tracker, a badge-engineered version of the Suzuki Vitara and the descendent of the Geo Tracker Suzuki Sidekick sibling, was sold all over the world with many nameplates. It was never much of a big seller in the United States, so this ZR-2 is an unusual Junkyard Find.

It will tow a semi! It’s like a (Suzuki) rock!
18 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinRemember when the Culture Wars were all about flag-burning? Here’s an early-to-mid-2000s artifact of those days for you.
01 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe ZR-2 option package was all about off-roady stuff. I wonder if any base-model Tracker owner will grab all the skid plates and stuff off this one.
04 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe engine is gone.
15 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThere’s probably not so much demand for worn-out Florida State tire covers.

01 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Junkyard Find: 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1990-geo-metro-lsi-convertible/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1990-geo-metro-lsi-convertible/#comments Tue, 11 Nov 2014 14:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=943265 GM and Ford sold quite a few of their badge-engineered micro-import gas-sippers (the Kia Pride aka Ford Festiva/Aspire and Suzuki Cultus aka Chevy Sprint/Geo Metro) in the 1980s and 1990s, and that means that I see a lot of these cars in the junkyard these days. It takes a special Metro to warrant inclusion here— […]

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05 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinGM and Ford sold quite a few of their badge-engineered micro-import gas-sippers (the Kia Pride aka Ford Festiva/Aspire and Suzuki Cultus aka Chevy Sprint/Geo Metro) in the 1980s and 1990s, and that means that I see a lot of these cars in the junkyard these days. It takes a special Metro to warrant inclusion here— so far we’ve seen this ’90 Metro El Camino, this ’92 LSi convertible, this electric-powered ’95 Metro, and this ’91 Suzuki Swift so far, plus this bonus Honda CBR1000-powered LeMons race-winning Metro— and I think a happy yellow LSi convertible is more interesting than your ordinary Geozuki.
11 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinThe demographic group in California (where I photographed this car) most likely to drive a 24-year-old Geo also happens to overlap with groups most likely to buy Deadline fashions. Here in Colorado, you’d be more likely to see Grenade Gloves stickers on such a car.
06 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinThis style of automotive tape graphics peaked in the late 1980s and early 1990s, though Chrysler kept going with them well into the late 1990s.
08 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinYou’ll find one in every car, kid. You’ll see.

We’ve all seen the US-market Metro ads by now, so let’s go to the car’s homeland. Can any of you Japanese speakers tell us what’s happening here?

Such a happy little car!

There was a Cultus Esteem.

In Canada, it was the Pontiac Firefly.

In Australia, it was the Holden Barina.

01 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 02 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 03 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 04 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 05 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 06 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 07 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 08 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 09 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 10 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 11 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 12 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 13 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin

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Look What We’re Missing: Suzuki Shows Off New Vitara http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/look-missing-suzuki-shows-new-vitara/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/look-missing-suzuki-shows-new-vitara/#comments Wed, 27 Aug 2014 19:03:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=901730   Suzuki may no longer be with us, but they’re readying the next generation Vitara for sale in world markets. With the new Vitara, Suzuki appears to be moving away from the off-road ready Vitara that was so popular with its North American fanbase. The new Vitara looks to be positioned as a Nissan Qashqai-fighter. […]

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76972-suzuki_0

 

Suzuki may no longer be with us, but they’re readying the next generation Vitara for sale in world markets.

With the new Vitara, Suzuki appears to be moving away from the off-road ready Vitara that was so popular with its North American fanbase. The new Vitara looks to be positioned as a Nissan Qashqai-fighter. A smart move from a commercial standpoint (since that’s where the market is going), but no doubt a blow to the Suzuki faithful.

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Suzuki Swept Up In GM Daytime Running Light Recall http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/suzuki-swept-up-in-gm-daytime-running-light-recall/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/suzuki-swept-up-in-gm-daytime-running-light-recall/#comments Tue, 27 May 2014 10:00:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=832810 Though Suzuki has long since left the United States automobile market — having better luck selling Hayabusas and boat engines — its partnership with General Motors has not quite given up the ghost, thanks to a defect related to a couple of their last offerings. Reuters reports Suzuki has recalled 184,244 2004 through 2008 Forenzas […]

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06-08_Suzuki_Forenza_sedan

Though Suzuki has long since left the United States automobile market — having better luck selling Hayabusas and boat engines — its partnership with General Motors has not quite given up the ghost, thanks to a defect related to a couple of their last offerings.

Reuters reports Suzuki has recalled 184,244 2004 through 2008 Forenzas and Renos affected by a defect in the daytime running light module that could lead to overheating and fire. The defect is also at the heart of a global recall issued last week by GM of 284,000 Chevrolet Aveos/Suzuki Swift+ et al, the majority — 218,000 — in the United States.

The fix for the module is in development, and a second notification will be sent by the automaker to affected owners when the fix is ready; Suzuki still offers warranty repairs and other services related to its last U.S. automotive offerings.

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GM’s Recall Mania Hits Suzuki http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/gms-recall-mania-hits-suzuki/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/gms-recall-mania-hits-suzuki/#comments Fri, 23 May 2014 17:57:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=829866 Poor Suzuki. Even as it tries to make a graceful exit from the U.S. market, they get mired in the latest round of General Motors recalls. Suzuki will be recalling 184,244 GM-made cars, sold as the Suzuki Forenza and Reno, but originating as the GM-made Daewoo Lacetti. Automotive News reports that the recall is related […]

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Click here to view the embedded video.

Poor Suzuki. Even as it tries to make a graceful exit from the U.S. market, they get mired in the latest round of General Motors recalls.

Suzuki will be recalling 184,244 GM-made cars, sold as the Suzuki Forenza and Reno, but originating as the GM-made Daewoo Lacetti. Automotive News reports that the recall is related to a faulty part in the daytime running lights that could overheat and catch fire.

Suzuki’s U.S. auto operations filed for bankruptcy in late 2012, with the plan approved in early 2013.

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Look What We’re Missing: Suzuki Launches New Crossover For Europe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/look-what-were-missing-suzuki-launches-new-crossover-for-europe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/look-what-were-missing-suzuki-launches-new-crossover-for-europe/#comments Thu, 15 May 2014 13:45:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=820922   The compact crossover market is so hot that even a moribund auto maker like Suzuki is getting into it – and what you’re looking at could very well be the next Vitara. Built in Hungary, the new B-segment CUV is expected to resemble the iv-4 Concept shown above. With a 2015 launch, we’ll have […]

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iv-4_concept_12_s

 

The compact crossover market is so hot that even a moribund auto maker like Suzuki is getting into it – and what you’re looking at could very well be the next Vitara.

Built in Hungary, the new B-segment CUV is expected to resemble the iv-4 Concept shown above. With a 2015 launch, we’ll have to wait a while to find out whether it’s a rugged off-roader like past Suzukis, or just another milquetoast urban runabout. The latter would be more profitable, thanks to leveraging the Swift architecture, while providing a more civilized driving experience – perhaps at the expense of Suzuki’s brand image. Or whatever is left of it.

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Hammer Time: Might As Well Go For A Soda http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/hammer-time-might-as-well-go-for-a-soda/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/hammer-time-might-as-well-go-for-a-soda/#comments Thu, 10 Apr 2014 14:56:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=793313 “Steve, what car should I buy?” “Well, if I give you the real answer, you’ll roll your eyes and buy what you want anyway.” “No really. I’m open to new ideas.” “Okay then! Buy a 2012 Malibu. Buy a Buick Park Avenue. Buy a Dodge Raider or buy a Suzuki Equator.” “Ummm… are you sure […]

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Click here to view the embedded video.

“Steve, what car should I buy?”

“Well, if I give you the real answer, you’ll roll your eyes and buy what you want anyway.”

“No really. I’m open to new ideas.”

“Okay then! Buy a 2012 Malibu. Buy a Buick Park Avenue. Buy a Dodge Raider or buy a Suzuki Equator.”

“Ummm… are you sure about that?”

“Hell no! Now go buy me a soda and buy yourself a Camry!”

A lot of enthusiasts give grief to the mainstream publications in this business. Sometimes I kinda don’t get why because to be brutally blunt, the “best car”  is usually firmly planted in the third row of most folk’s priorities when it comes to buying their next car.

For all the manufacturers desires to offer power, performance and utility together in one great vehicle, most of the general public just doesn’t care.

They usually want a brand first. Looks second. Then there’s fuel economy, safety, perceived quality… and a long, long list of excuses to get away from the less popular alternatives.

The best new car is rarely the best selling car in this business. There are Mazdas that I love which have a snowballs chance in hell of taking on the Toyotas and Chevys. Even if they do a far better job of checking off most consumer’s real world priorities, it’s a moot point and an inevitable outcome.

If Volvo came out with a breakthrough product, I seriously doubt that most shoppers of prestige brands would even remotely consider it. Never mind that there are plenty of reputable sources out there that can help dispel those myths as to which models now offer the best bang for the buck. Volvo no longer ranks in the pantheons of marketplace leaders. Case closed.

Even when mainstream publication have the gall to endorse an Oldsmobile or a Suzuki over a Camry or an Accord, the result of that neighborly advice is that people just won’t take it.

Why? People are brand loyal, and they are bias loyal.

Click here to view the embedded video.

That Ford station wagon that killed Aunt Edna’s dog 35 years ago?  Well, that just means Detroit cars are pure crap. Never mind that carsurvey, TrueDelta, and even the long-term reliability index I am co-developing have disproved a lot of those myths.

Cadillac can’t ever match a Mercedes. Mercedes isn’t as good as a Lexus. Lexus isn’t as good as a BMW. On and on through the merry go round of biases and BS until you can’t help but SAAB at the futility of recommending a great car at a steal of a price.

Kizashi! What? Exactly. It’s a great car if you play around with a stickshift version. You say you’re an enthusiast… but then when I recommend a stick version, you look at me like I’m from Mars.

The truth is that enthusiast cars don’t sell. The best cars for pure driving enjoyment, don’t sell. The Miata has been shucked in the low 10k range of annual sales for a long time now. Mustangs? An ungodly sales decline. There are some who blame these types of things on demographics or the police state. But I have a third theory.

American tastes increasingly resemble the American interstate. There is a sameness and sadness to the menu which is dictating that the best cars are psychologically unaccessible. Nobody wants to get off the straight and dull road that leads to the Camcrods, the Cor-antr-ics and the American badged truck.

Are all those models good? Well, yeah. But good seldom equals love. You want love? Go tear down a bias and rediscover why a great car is worthy buying.

Don’t forget the radar detector.

P.S. :  Feel free to share your thoughts below on great cars that have missed that elusive mark of mainstream acceptance over the years. I am going to be spending most of today getting a bonded title for a 21 year old Cadillac limousine. I will need intensive comic relief thanks to the interminable tortures that come with taking care of that type of title issue at the DMV. So please, feel free to share your stories and insights. I can always be reached directly at steve.lang@thetruthaboutcars.com .

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Junkyard Find: 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Electric Sport http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1988-chevrolet-sprint-electric-sport/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1988-chevrolet-sprint-electric-sport/#comments Tue, 08 Apr 2014 13:00:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=788522 Now that it’s possible to buy electric cars that actually do what cars are supposed to do, we mustn’t forget the very lengthy era— say 1970 to just a few years ago— during which all manner of optimistic-yet-doomed companies converted various econoboxes into lead-acid-battery-based EVs. Every once in a while, I’ll spot the remains of […]

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12 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNow that it’s possible to buy electric cars that actually do what cars are supposed to do, we mustn’t forget the very lengthy era— say 1970 to just a few years ago— during which all manner of optimistic-yet-doomed companies converted various econoboxes into lead-acid-battery-based EVs. Every once in a while, I’ll spot the remains of such an EV at a junkyard; we saw a junked EVolve Electrics 1995 Geo Metro EV conversion last year, and now a different Denver yard has given us this ’88 Sprint “Electric Sport.”
06 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Sprint aka Cultus wasn’t a bad choice for an electric vehicle, being lightweight and cheap.
01 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinElectric motors are worth money, either as working motors or as sources of valuable scrap copper, so the one in this car is long gone.
18 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe remnants of the battery tray may be seen in the rear cargo area.
17 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSomeone grabbed the no-doubt-modified instrument cluster, too.
07 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBonus points to anyone who can track down the company that built the Electric Sport Sprint!

01 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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VW Budget Brand Hitting Budget Wall, Still Under Consideration http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/vw-budget-brand-hitting-budget-wall-still-under-consideration/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/vw-budget-brand-hitting-budget-wall-still-under-consideration/#comments Mon, 03 Mar 2014 14:47:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=760145 In 2012, Volkswagen began research into starting a budget brand in the vein of Datsun and intended rival Dacia, with the aim of having a full lineup ready for sale by 2015. Two years later, the budget brand has hit a budget wall, and that’s only the start. Autoblog and Autocar report VW is having […]

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2013 Volkswagen Up

In 2012, Volkswagen began research into starting a budget brand in the vein of Datsun and intended rival Dacia, with the aim of having a full lineup ready for sale by 2015. Two years later, the budget brand has hit a budget wall, and that’s only the start.

Autoblog and Autocar report VW is having issues hitting safety and quality targets while maintaining the low-cost pricing — aimed between 6,000 and 8,000 euro; the Up above begins at nearly 10,000 euro — the automaker expects for the unnamed budget brand.

Though no business case has been found thus far, VW’s project is still under consideration as technicians pour over how similar rivals — including one-time partner Suzuki and considered partner Proton — are able to build low-cost vehicles without compromising on quality or price. Even though Renault-Nissan manages to be profitable with Dacia, VW is concerned that a low-cost car would erode their own margins.

Last year, Volkswagen announced they would work in a joint venture with Chinese automaker FAW to bring a budget vehicle to China by 2016; cost issues are affecting this effort, as well.

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TTAC Salutes The Maruti 800 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/ttac-salutes-the-maruti-800/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/ttac-salutes-the-maruti-800/#comments Tue, 11 Feb 2014 13:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=738721     Despite an ailing presence in North America, Suzuki has been a pioneer in the Indian marketplace, with its Maruti Suzuki subsidiary selling over 10 million vehicles since inception in 1981, with the Maruti 800 serving as its core product. Based on the tiny, Japanese-market Suzuki Fronte, the 800 used the Fronte’s chassis, with […]

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Maruti800_manhan

 

 

Despite an ailing presence in North America, Suzuki has been a pioneer in the Indian marketplace, with its Maruti Suzuki subsidiary selling over 10 million vehicles since inception in 1981, with the Maruti 800 serving as its core product.

Based on the tiny, Japanese-market Suzuki Fronte, the 800 used the Fronte’s chassis, with the body of a second-generation Suzuki Alto and a diminutive 800cc engine. For a low cost car in a developing country, this was fairly advanced, given that the Fronte was powered by a two-stroke engine at one point in its life.

By Western standards, the 800 is laughably spartan, packing just 37 horsepower and devoid of air-conditioning, power features, an automatic transmission, side mirrors or any hope of surviving a traffic accident. But it was the 800, not the Hindustan Ambassador, that mobilized India’s middle class, with many 800s serving as driving school vehicles, family transportation and in many cases, a step up from motoring on two wheels. Before the Datsun Go and Dacia Logan, the Maruti 800 was the original low cost car.

Like many other antiquated designs, the Maruti 800 has fallen victim to stricter standards, specifically emissions regulations that would require expensive upgrades to its powertrain. Given the substantial amount of road deaths in India, the chance for a safer alternative to take its place isn’t such a bad thing either.

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Caterham Using Three-Cylinder Suzuki Engine In Entry-Level Seven http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/caterham-using-three-cylinder-suzuki-engine-in-entry-level-seven/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/caterham-using-three-cylinder-suzuki-engine-in-entry-level-seven/#comments Wed, 07 Aug 2013 15:43:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=498523   The newest entry-level variant of the Caterham Seven range will be getting a powertrain from an unlikely source; a 660cc three-cylinder Suzuki engine. Power and efficiency figures haven’t been announced, but Caterham is claiming that this is the lightest, most compact and most efficient powertrain ever put in a Seven. It’s also supposed to […]

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caterham_seven

 

The newest entry-level variant of the Caterham Seven range will be getting a powertrain from an unlikely source; a 660cc three-cylinder Suzuki engine.

Power and efficiency figures haven’t been announced, but Caterham is claiming that this is the lightest, most compact and most efficient powertrain ever put in a Seven. It’s also supposed to be the cheapest, slotting in under the previous 1.6L 125 horsepower Ford-engined variants. Given the engine’s 660 cc displacement, it’s likely that this unit comes from a Japanese-market kei car, which would equate to an output of 63 horsepower – possibly more in Caterham spec.

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Suzuki Denies Renewed Talks With VW http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/suzuki-denies-renewed-talks-with-vw/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/suzuki-denies-renewed-talks-with-vw/#comments Fri, 02 Aug 2013 12:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=497806 Though recent reports claim that VW Chairman Ferdinand Piech and Suzuki President Osamu Suzuki are involved in board level talks to resolve the differences in their on again off again relationship, at a news conference for quarterly earnings, Suzuki Executive Vice President Toshihiro Suzuki denied any such talks have taken place. According to Reuters, Suzuki claimed that […]

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suzuki-volkswagen-partnership

Not so fast…again

Though recent reports claim that VW Chairman Ferdinand Piech and Suzuki President Osamu Suzuki are involved in board level talks to resolve the differences in their on again off again relationship, at a news conference for quarterly earnings, Suzuki Executive Vice President Toshihiro Suzuki denied any such talks have taken place. According to Reuters, Suzuki claimed that “There have been various reports, but there absolutely are no such facts, so there is nothing I can talk about on this topic.”

In 2009 VW paid $2.3 billion for a 20% stake in Suzuki. VW wanted access to India, where Suzuki is the market leader and Suzuki wanted access to VW’s fuel saving tech. The VW said Suzuki broke the contract by trying to buy diesel engines from Fiat. In return, Suzuki said VW had withheld hybrid technology covered in the agreement. Suzuki then filed for international arbitration in 2011 after the German automaker refused to sell back its shares in Suzuki.

 

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Bi-Polar Suzuki Not Sure What To Do With VW http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/bi-polar-suzuki-not-sure-what-to-do-with-vw/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/bi-polar-suzuki-not-sure-what-to-do-with-vw/#comments Mon, 29 Jul 2013 15:20:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=497334 Suzuki and VW don’t seem ready to officially call it quits just yet. The two companies are still talking, with both sides continuing to see positives in what was to be a partnership on small cars and Suzuki’s domination of emerging markets. Senior management from both sides, including Osamu Suzuki, are currently in talks to […]

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Suzuki SX4. Photo courtesy AutoExpress

Suzuki and VW don’t seem ready to officially call it quits just yet. The two companies are still talking, with both sides continuing to see positives in what was to be a partnership on small cars and Suzuki’s domination of emerging markets.

Senior management from both sides, including Osamu Suzuki, are currently in talks to revive the partnership as it could help Suzuki spread their R&D costs over multiple products and give them access to VW technology. Volkswagen wants a greater foothold in India and China, where Suzuki has been wildly successful, a stark contrast to their presence in North America. If talks fail, the courts have some decisions to make.

The situation came to a head two years after the partnership between the two companies was initially formed, with both parties calling the other out for breach of contract. Since then, the matter has been before the courts as Suzuki demanded back VW’s 19.9% share in the Japanese company. Volkswagen is currently Suzuki’s largest shareholder, though the company is controlled by the Suzuki family.

For what it’s worth, talks could go either way. As we reported last year, Osamu Suzuki is a bit of a wild card. When the partnership was active, engineers at the two companies worked quite well with each other. But, Osamu Suzuki and other members of senior management at both companies felt they were getting raw ends of the deal.

A slighted Suzuki went to the press, calling off the partnership before making a phone call to Germany to notify Ferdinand Piech of his decision. The relationship between VW and Suzuki has been rocky ever since.

 

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Two Guys, One Cup: Behind The Wheel Of Suzuki’s Littlest Sportscar http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/two-guys-in-a-cup-behind-the-wheel-of-suzukis-littlest-sportscar/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/two-guys-in-a-cup-behind-the-wheel-of-suzukis-littlest-sportscar/#comments Mon, 15 Jul 2013 17:56:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=495270 The little red car sat squat and low on the street looking for all the world like the product of an unlikely tryst between a Dodge Viper and a child’s pedal car. It was a classic two seat sports car, with short rear deck, small passenger compartment and “long” hood that stretched away from the […]

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The little red car sat squat and low on the street looking for all the world like the product of an unlikely tryst between a Dodge Viper and a child’s pedal car. It was a classic two seat sports car, with short rear deck, small passenger compartment and “long” hood that stretched away from the driver just far enough to cover the engine beneath it. The proportions were right, but the actual numbers were ludicrous: 81 inch wheel base, 54 inches wide, a curb weight just a touch under 1600 pounds and 660 CC engine with a maximum horsepower rating of just 63 horsepower. This was going to be an experience, I knew, but first I had to figure out how I was going to fit behind the wheel.

Many of us in the Western Hemisphere live in awe of the Japanese Kei car. A special category of micro-car, the Kei is limited in overall size and engine displacement by law. People who buy Keis benefit from a reduced vehicle tax and are also exempt from appearing at the local police station to prove they have a place to park their car before they are allowed to register it with the DMV. Kei cars come in all sorts of configurations but are for the most part utilitarian cars that strive to be small on the outside but as large as possible on the inside. Like the vaunted Mitsubishi Zero fighters of the second world war, Kei cars trade weight for performance and many of them are quite spry on the road, but lack the solidity of other small cars.

Autozam_AZ-1_001

In the early 1990s three Japanese companies, Suzuki, Honda and Mazda under their Kei car specific Autozam brand, introduced competing sports cars. All three are worthy of mention in any article about small sports cars, with the Autozam AZ-1 and the Honda Beat being mid-engined rear wheel drive machines while the Cappuccino is a front/mid engined car also with rear wheel drive, and, since they all were built to meet the same legal standards all have virtually the same weight and horsepower numbers. Driving dynamics of the AZ-1 and the Beat, unfortunately remain a mystery to me because, unlike the Cappuccino I didn’t happen to have a student who owned one.

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Taka was a cool dude. Tall and thin, but not especially handsome, he had the demeanor of a Japanese rock star. At 23 years old, he melted all the high school girls’ hearts whenever he slipped into the school and poured his lanky frame into the seats of our waiting room. It would have been easy for him to effect a snide, superior attitude but since his day job was running a backhoe for the Japan Rail company he was surprisingly down to earth. The little red sports car he drove fit him perfectly in size and attitude, at once glamorous and attention getting while at the same time firmly grounded in the real world and with humble underpinnings.

800px-Suzuki_Cappuccino_front_20090514

The Cappuccino was a tinny little thing of Lilliputian proportions and I realized as I approached the driver’s side that I was going to have to seriously contort myself if I was going to get my modest 6’1” 240 pound all American beef fed frame behind the wheel. My first attempt at a normal entry failed miserably. Next I tried stepping into the car with both feet, something that was only possible because of the car’s open top, and sliding down the seat back; no dice. Finally I pivoted my hind-end out the open door, put my hands on the black top and crab walked my way into the saddle.

My unconventional entrance worked, but now I was stuck with the steering wheel inches in front of me and the foot well so filled with my legs that I could only find the pedals by sense of touch. They were there, impossibly tiny and just millimeters from one another. Taka guided me. “Off to the left of the clutch is a dead pedal to rest your foot on.” He told me. It made all the difference and although I still felt pinched, the unseen world beneath made at least some semblance of sense.

When the door closed I found myself fully entrapped in the little car. Its high door sills precluded resting my arm on the edge of the window and the tiny console on my left just large enough for my elbow. The shifter was there, striking me in the middle of my fore-arm rather than fitting my hand, but as Taka climbed in next to me I turned the key, found the gear and hit the gas.

We headed out down the narrow, one way thoroughfare in front of my school to the main road that ran alongside the Uji river. It was a terrible road to drive, a narrow strip of pavement that ran precariously atop a levy intended hold back the river should it approach flood stage. The few guard rails that the Japanese government had decided to place along it at odd intervals always struck me as being much too close and I had avoided this road for many months as my Supra felt far too wide for it. It was, however, one of the few roads in town that didn’t have a stoplight every fifty feet and so it was a good place to air out a car – if you had the guts.

Uji_里尻_Ujicity_Kyotopref_Kyotoprefecturtal_road_241_Mukaijima_Uji_line

The narrow road seemed surprisingly wide from the cockpit of the Cappuccino. The little car wound out in first gear, and hissed energetically through its pop-off valve as I pushed in the clutch for the shift to second. There was another rush of acceleration and another gratifying hiss and the car scooted under my butt as I wound up the revs high enough for the turbo to have a real effect. The wind blew across the hood, over the windscreen and tousled my hair and the little car came into its own as I slung it into the curves that followed the river’s every bend. Despite the cramped quarters, the little car felt natural under me, pulling me out of the tiny cockpit and my focusing my attention onto the road ahead. Like a motorcycle I had the sensation of flying and the little car responded to my every input with razor sharp handling. The road rushed forward to meet us and I entered the zone where my driving inputs were purely mechanical, each happening a moment after my mind had already swept past that place on the road.

Taka’s hand on my arm brought me back to the real world and I suddenly realized I was flogging his pride and joy a little harder than I probably should be. We hit the turnaround and I brought the car back a little less energetically than I had taken it out. Back at the school we grinned stupidly at one another and I began the task of extricating myself from the seat I had taken so much time to clamber into. What a ride.

With my feet once again on terra firma, the car resumed its comically small proportions and the normal world reasserted itself. My initial thoughts about the car were, I decided, right. The Cappuccino is one part supercar and one part toy and all kinds of fun. Safety issues aside, it is a shame we don’t get more little cars like this in the states. Everyone wants to be a hero, and this is a car that could make a hero out of everyman. That’s O-kei with me.

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Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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Junkyard Find: 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/junkyard-find-1992-geo-metro-lsi-convertible/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/junkyard-find-1992-geo-metro-lsi-convertible/#comments Wed, 26 Jun 2013 13:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=493354 As a former Metro owner— about ten years ago, I found a low-mile ’96 Metro with four-cylinder and automatic for a scrap-value price and couldn’t say no to the deal— I’ve always sort of liked Suzuki’s little no-lux gas miserwagen. It takes a special Metro for me to include it in this series, however; we’ve […]

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04 - 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAs a former Metro owner— about ten years ago, I found a low-mile ’96 Metro with four-cylinder and automatic for a scrap-value price and couldn’t say no to the deal— I’ve always sort of liked Suzuki’s little no-lux gas miserwagen. It takes a special Metro for me to include it in this series, however; we’ve seen this ’90 Metro El Camino, this electric-powered ’95 Metro, and this ’91 Suzuki Swift so far, plus this bonus Honda CBR1000-powered LeMons race-winning Metro, and now I’ve found one of the very rare Metro convertibles at a California self-service wrecking yard.
02 - 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe early 1990s was a good period for cars, mostly; carburetors were finally gone forever, horsepower ratings were really starting to climb, the Japanese carmakers still hadn’t slid into their current take-no-chances boring design philosophy, and you could get cheap convertibles.
09 - 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinA three-cylinder, 1.0 liter engine coupled to an automatic transmission made for leisurely acceleration. Actually, it made for dangerously slow acceleration.
06 - 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBut so what? It was a convertible for dirt cheap!

You got what you paid for with the Metro, which is more than you could say for a lot of its contemporaries.

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Junkyard Find: 1986 Chevrolet Sprint http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/junkyard-find-1986-chevrolet-sprint-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/junkyard-find-1986-chevrolet-sprint-2/#comments Sat, 15 Jun 2013 13:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=491921 Yesterday, we admired this El Camino-ized Geo Metro, which probably got all of you wondering about the badge-engineered Suzuki Cultus that The General sold before the Geo marque existed. Wonder no more— here’s a genuine Chevy Sprint awaiting consumption by The Crusher! Three cylinders, unapologetically cheap interior, sticker price even lower than that of the […]

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11 - 1986 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYesterday, we admired this El Camino-ized Geo Metro, which probably got all of you wondering about the badge-engineered Suzuki Cultus that The General sold before the Geo marque existed. Wonder no more— here’s a genuine Chevy Sprint awaiting consumption by The Crusher!
02 - 1986 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThree cylinders, unapologetically cheap interior, sticker price even lower than that of the wretched Hyundai Excel.
03 - 1986 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIn accordance with General Motors tradition (which persisted well into the 1990s in some models), the odometer in this car shows only five digits. Is it possible that this car has just 32,561 miles on the clock? 132,561 is a lot more likely, but you never know.
10 - 1986 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe “hood ornament” is actually a hood release button.
05 - 1986 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinRemember Chevrolet’s short-lived infatuation with this blue color for emblems?
06 - 1986 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinCarburetion and one liter of displacement. Not a lot of power, but not much to go wrong.


Gets better fuel economy than any other four-passenger car in America (the Honda CRX HF was a two-passenger car), and it loves to run!


Translation: if you’re ready to take a (short) step up from your moped, this is the car for you!


Of course, the Japanese-market ad for the same car is just… classier.

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Suzuki Planning Product Onslaught http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/suzuki-planning-product-onslaught/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/suzuki-planning-product-onslaught/#comments Fri, 14 Jun 2013 16:28:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=492157 Just as Suzuki prepares to wrap things up in the North American market, their global product line is set to be revamped entirely, with a focus on vehicles like the Nissan Juke. AutoExpress is reporting that no less than five new cars will debut in the Suzuki lineup, including A new three-cylinder city car to […]

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Suzuki_Swift_1.2_Comfort_(FZ_NZ)_–_Frontansicht,_26._März_2011,_Düsseldorf (1)

Just as Suzuki prepares to wrap things up in the North American market, their global product line is set to be revamped entirely, with a focus on vehicles like the Nissan Juke.

AutoExpress is reporting that no less than five new cars will debut in the Suzuki lineup, including

  • A new three-cylinder city car to replace the Splash
  • A four-wheel drive version of the highly acclaimed Swift
  • A new B-segment crossover
  • A production version of the Suzuki G70 concept car using Fiat’s TwinAir two-cylinder engine
  • An MPV-type vehicle slotting above the Swift

Right now, the last two are under consideration with the others being given a green light. Given that none of those products would really fly in North America, save for the Swift (and that’s a longshot at best) it’s easy to see why the decision to close up shop was made, rather than invest in North American-specific product.

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Junkyard Find: 1990 Geo Metro-amino Pickup http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/junkyard-find-1990-geo-metro-amino-pickup/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/junkyard-find-1990-geo-metro-amino-pickup/#comments Fri, 14 Jun 2013 13:00:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=491854 It takes a really special Geo Metro to achieve Junkyard Find status; the last one that managed the feat was this bright green electric-powered ’95, which turned out to be a Ree-V conversion made in Colorado during the EV optimism of the late 2000s. During a trip to my old San Francisco Bay stomping grounds […]

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14 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt takes a really special Geo Metro to achieve Junkyard Find status; the last one that managed the feat was this bright green electric-powered ’95, which turned out to be a Ree-V conversion made in Colorado during the EV optimism of the late 2000s. During a trip to my old San Francisco Bay stomping grounds a few weeks ago, I spotted today’s Junkyard Find parked just a few yards away from this will-make-you-haz-a-sad 1960 Nash Metropolitan.
07 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThese conversions (if based on a GM car, the correct term is “El-Caminoization”; Fords are “Rancheroized” and Chryslers get “Rampagized”) usually result when a hooptie car owner who owns a Sawzall but no cash really wants a pickup truck, right now. This one looks like it was built pretty well, by the standards of the genre.
12 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNo big-block Suzuki four-banger here; this is the genuine 50-plus-MPG three-cylinder engine.
06 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinCargo capacity is quite small, which is a good thing considering the front-drivedness and tiny size of this machine.
04 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Metro wasn’t quite as miserably slow as you’d expect, but that’s more due to low expectations than actual performance.
09 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Apple sticker is a weird touch; the kind of person who would build such a hacked-up piece of backyard engineering most likely doesn’t feel comfortable with the don’t-resist-the-Cupertino-way philosophy behind Apple products. I’d guess that the builder of this car runs non-Cupertino/non-Redmond operating systems on surplus hardware. Of course, it’s possible that the builder sold his or her Metroamino to someone who bought it for a single Burning Man trip and then scrapped it.
02 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWhat’s next, a Geo Stormamino? A Cateramino? Achievamino?

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