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Suzuki drops U.S. market

Suzuki has finally called it quits and will be pulling out of the U.S. auto market as sales continue to flag and decades of trying to gain a foothold prove wasted.

Japanese maker Suzuki has made motorcycles, automobiles, and other machines for half a century or more. In the United States, they've been selling cars for 27 years. The company has barely been more than a niche player, however, and after failing for so long, Suzuki America's automotive branch, American Suzuki Motor Corp, has filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy and will be pulling out of the U.S.

Citing continued low sales volumes and unfavorable exchange rates, Suzuki is going to pull its auto sales, but will continue selling its high-volume motorcycles, ATVs, and boats. The bankruptcy and pullout affects only automotive.

Suzuki faced many problems, not the least of which was being the fourth-largest carmaker in Japan, but being the tiniest seller in the United States. Their vehicles were all produced in Japan and shipped here for import, which meant they had to exchange Yen for Dollar as well as pay U.S. auto import fees. These two things meant low profit per vehicle. Add to that a lack of investment in American-centric design for their cars and the overall total is a failure to gain market share.

Suzuki was one of the two car brands I cited in October that should just give up. The other being Mitsubishi, whose overall market share is about double Suzuki's at a whopping half of one percent of the total U.S. market. At last count, Suzuki was selling less than 2,000 vehicles per month.

Total sales in 2012 are only 21,188 and Suzuki has ceased imports as of the bankruptcy filing.

Suzuki's primary competition in the U.S. are Nissan and Kia, mostly through small cars and compact SUVs (thik Kizashi and Grant Vitara). The bankruptcy seeks to cease contracts Suzuki holds with more than 200 dealers nationally who are maintaining franchises - a deal which would mirror the dealer cutoff made when General Motors and Chrysler went through their 2009 bankruptcies. The difference here is that most Suzuki dealers are multi-brand dealers who are also selling other makes and brands. This would mean less financial impact than some suffered under GM and Chrysler closures, so it's unlikely that a Saturn-like scenario over Suzuki's pullout would commence.

While the bankruptcy cites debt of $346 million, the company will self-finance the losses, mainly through a repurchase of the motorcycle, ATV and outboard engine operations in America by the Japanese parent company during restructuring. Suzuki has pledged to continue honoring warranties on vehicles already sold and to be sold.


William Sherman (not verified)    September 22, 2014 - 6:05AM

I'd STILL Like to be "Kept in the communication LOOP", despite Mama & Poppa Suzuki leaving us behind, as my PRIMARY Interests are NOT "Automotive" [per se], but rely solely on the vested interests of US-Bound, Import product of the Suzuki name brand, that we purchase wholesale (I work for the US-based Distribution Hub, based in Honolulu) and sell retail throughout these islands.

As I have been in other financial compensatory pursuits in the passed couple of years, I am stepping back into the daily, retail level selling of primary two-wheeled product, 75% Sport bikes, GSXR, and the balance V-Strom, Gladius, Dual Sport Enduros and the FULL-LINE of Boulevard name-plated bikes, from the S40 - Suzuki Boulevard to the M50, the C50, and the C90 & 109 models as well... (plus the standard TU250 machines). AND, let's NOT leave out the off-road components of the Product Line, both 2 & 4 wheeled machines!At this juncture allow me to put ALL of the cards on the table, as "I cut my teeth" (learned how to sell motorcycles) in 1984 by selling the competition, Kawasaki, and (while I haven't been to Japan) I have visited the Kawasaki manufacturing plants in (Guadalupe) Metro Manila Philippines, and in BKK, aka Bangkok, Thailand. I went from knowing nothing about the product to knowing AND SELLING every single vehicle in THEIR line-up- clear up to their MULE.. WHY DO I WRITE THIS HERE? I write this here because I am NOW committed to selling SUZUKI (US Imported) product including the full range of ATV's, although I am NO LONGER SELLING at the entry level, I am starting all over again with a NEW brand to me, and a new set of retail pricing I must memorize!

I have been in the business long enough to know that selling involves only about 10% product knowledge and 90% PMA- (Positive Mental Attitude), Not just I think I can, (That just sets the possibility) but more importantly, I KNOW I WILL, (This declares ACTION!) & that it is not only GOING to happen, but I have already started selling bikes.

One of the concerns is we still have some 2010 product in our line-up, (not just dirt bikes) but maybe a couple of M50s, as well.

Despite the 10% ratio of Product Knowledge, lets not fool ourselves as to HOW VERY IMPORTANT it is to fully understand the product I sell, in ALL aspects, seat height, fuel capacity, type of brakes, top speed, carb vs F.I., etc, etc.

Thus, Kindly keep in touch with me, do not be afraid to share old & new info about Motorcycles (ALL Suzuki 2 & 4 wheeled US Bound Product) including Off-road vehicles, and anything else new that we may be privy to as data is released by the Top Brass at Suzuki Japan!

Thank you for 'plugging me back in to" the Suzuki Retail Motorcycle Sales machine, and allowing me to feel 'back in the saddle again"!


Bill Sherman
Sales Representative
Montgomery Power Sports
Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.A