By on April 29, 2013

America’s top selling Suzuki dealer is switching it up with a much more popular brand. Wichita Suzuki has begun selling Subaru cars as it prepares for the end of the Suzuki era in America.

Faced with an end to Suzuki sales, proprietor Scott Pitman bought a stake in a Subaru store owned by a business partner and moved it to his former Suzuki store. At its former location, the Subaru store was selling less than 50 cars a month, and Pittman is hoping to double that figure within a year. Last year, Pitman sold about 1,300 new Suzukis and around 1,800 used cars. Unlike most stores, dealers at Pitman’s store are salaried, rather than paid commission. Automotive News explains Pitman’s rationale for the pay structure

That encourages salespeople to find the best fit for buyers rather than steer them toward the most profitable vehicles, he said. Subaru buyers generally also do lots of Internet research on their potential purchases, making the role of the salesperson more one of helping the shopper navigate the process rather than trying to push a vehicle on them, Pitman said.

And of course, Pitman’s store won’t be slacking on subprime sales either

Pitman said about half of his Suzuki vehicle buyers last year came to the dealership through credit leads. Those are generated on the dealership Web site or third-party shopping sites when a person fills out credit information to determine how expensive of a car he or she can afford. Pitman said he could put many of those buyers into a new low-priced Suzuki rather than a used car. He said his operation will continue to cater to buyers with poor credit at the Subaru and used-car stores.



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17 Comments on “America’s Top Suzuki Dealer Switches To Subaru...”

  • avatar

    50 whole cars a month? It might be a bit different when they switch to Subaru. The former Hummer dealership near me switched to Subaru and they appear much busier than when they sold those thirsty POS Hummers.

    • 0 avatar

      50 cars a month is what the local Subaru dealer was doing before Pitman bought into it and relocated it to the former home of his Suzuki dealership. Pitman sold 1,300 Suzukis last year, which is more than 100 a month. One might think that he will do much better with Subaru’s line, but it sounds like he generated his volume by mining the bottom of the new car market. That might actually be harder to do with a brand in less desperate straights than Suzuki was.

  • avatar

    Somehow I doubt that KS is a very Subaru-friendly state. There isn’t much need for awd there and it’s the South. They might be able to sell a bit more than 50 there but doubt they’ll double it anytime soon. This isn’t ME/VT/MA/CO.

    • 0 avatar

      That would be my assumption, but having lived in the research triangle area of North Carolina I have changed my opinion. Here, in the south (albeit with lots of out of state transplants) where AWD is not really needed, there are 3 Subaru dealers, which is the same number as there are of Toyota dealers, albeit smaller. They sell a good number down here (including to me!) and are pretty common – mainly Outbacks and Foresters. Subaru has gone more mainstream, from being just CO and VT to being more national.

      If they can sell 100 Sukuzi’s a month then it shows geographically there is a large enough population pool to increase sales. However I agree with CJ that they did that by mining the bottom of the pool financially and Subaru’s are more expensive (no SX4’s) and don`t subsidize the financing like Suzuki did.

      The salaried staff is an interesting idea. I wish more dealers did that.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m sure you don’t come from there. It’s true that it isn’t the frozen north but during the depths of winter it is frozen. There is a fair amount snow most years and if you don’t have something that will maneuver in it you can stay home. I think he will do pretty well although your point about selling to bottom feeders is well taken.

    • 0 avatar

      I grew up in KS and there were times where the ground would be covered by snow for weeks and occasionally months at a time.

    • 0 avatar

      You don’t seem to know much about Kansas — it’s not in the South and has more snow than you seem to think. That said, there are many 4WD/AWD cars available now than in the past — to some extent buying a Subaru is seen as buying a lifestyle among certain groups of people (I’m not talking about the lesbian stereotype).

  • avatar

    I thought I read (or heard) that Subaru buyers tend to be in the higher credit-score ranges, with college degrees, etc. With that, I’m guessing Pitman’s sales leads will not be from “financial calculator” sites, as buyers with solid finances and stellar credit don’t need help determining how much car they can afford.

    • 0 avatar

      The people with higher credit scores and college degrees WILL use a financial calculator. They got those high credit scores by penciling out everything.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Subaru’s do very well in the rain as well. Down here in the heated South, the first 5 minutes of a rainstorm pose a very delicate driving situation with the wetness on top of the road oils. Not fun.

    • 0 avatar

      That oil factor you describe is even worse somewhere like California, where you only get rain certain times of year. Angelenos, for example, already don’t know how to drive in the rain, but the first rainstorm of the year is by far the worst.

      • 0 avatar

        The worst I ever saw that situation was in Panama. The Canal Zone anyway. The roads had batches of crushed coral. There was a rainy season and a dry season. When the rainy season started the oil would float up and the coral was normally slick. Good time to have a subaru.

  • avatar


    I know that place.. found it on Autotrader looking for SX4s on a goof.. found a nice SX4 crossover there at an attractive price with just 9 Miles on the Odometer!! …was just working up the nerve to take the 200+ mile trip up there to try an even-swap trade-in for a 2012 Kia Soul (I got bored with the boomy-boomy, flashy-lighty things in the speakers) when they pulled it from their inventory, dunno if it sold or they just got tired of it being on their lot and dealer-traded it.

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