Suzuki Motor Corp. announced that it is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and as part of its restructuring, will no longer sell cars in the United States.
Afficianados of Suzuki motorcycles, ATVs and other products don't need to worry, however. Bloomberg Businessweek reports, "Suzuki will stop the sale of new automobiles in the U.S., though it will continue offering motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and boat motors. …"
Given how sluggish Suzuki sales have been, the move isn't unexpected. According to sales data from Automotive News (subscription required), Suzuki sold only 21,188 cars, SUVs and trucks in the U.S. so far this year, which is a five percent drop from 2011. Among non-luxury brands, only Smart has sold fewer vehicles than Suzuki so far in 2012.
The low sales numbers come despite the fact that some Suzuki cars and trucks tend to be well-liked by automotive critics. The Suzuki Kizashi is currently ranked fifth in affordable midsize cars, with reviewers liking its abundant standard features and fun-to-drive nature. The Suzuki Equator is currently the fourth-ranked compact pickup truck. The Suzuki SX4 small car is the top-selling Suzuki model in the United States.
Suzuki tried to differentiate itself in the U.S. market by offering long warranties, including a seven-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. With Suzuki leaving the U.S., other brands stand to benefit. Edmunds comments, "Kia and Nissan are the two brands most shopped against Suzuki vehicles on our site." Kia offers a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, and Nissan has partnered with Suzuki on the production of the Suzuki Equator. Suzuki says it will continue to honor its warranties.
Yahoo! Autos writes, "And after nearly 30 years on these shores, the company had failed to craft much of an identity among American consumers. In China, Malaysia and elsewhere, Suzukis are seen as cheap yet stylish transportation, an image that it could never build here."
With Suzuki stopping new car sales in the U.S., its prices are likely to drop. Suzuki models like the Kizashi, SX4 and Grand Vitara are already fairly affordable for their classes. In the case of the SX4 and Kizashi, you can get all-wheel drive, something that's rare for small and midsize cars. If you're looking for a car with a long warranty and low price, now should be a good time to test drive a Suzuki.
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