December 26th, 2012
As American Suzuki Motor Corp. winds down its U.S. car sales operations after entering bankruptcy, the Suzuki faithful are lining up to get their hands on the last available new models. U.S. Suzuki sales were up 22% in November to 2,224 units, with December numbers continuing the upward trend.
American Suzuki will import 2,500 additional cars and trucks that were destined for other world markets in order to meet the unanticipated demand, no doubt spurred on by generous cash incentives and a 7-year warranty promotion. Suzuki expects total 2012 U.S. sales of around 22,000 units, or better than anticipated, but still a far cry from the 120,000 annual units the company was moving before the auto industry crash in 2008.
American Suzuki owes its Japanese parent company around $152 million, and has entered into a settlement agreement with its dealer network to avoid litigation during the wind-down. Suzuki dealers, 69% of which have been selling fewer than five cars per month recently, will receive half of what they are owed in a lump sum as part of the bankruptcy agreement, with the remaining funds coming as part of the normal bankruptcy process.
Suzuki Motor Corp. pledges to honor all existing car warranties for their duration, and will continue to sell motorcycles, boats and ATVs in the U.S. for the foreseeable future through a reorganized dealer network.
November 6th, 2012
American Suzuki Motor Corporation will file for bankruptcy protection, and will stop selling passenger cars in the U.S. as part of a restructuring plan for the struggling company. American Suzuki will continue to sell motorcycles, ATVs and marine outboard engines, and will honor warranties while continuing to provide parts and service through its dealer network for the foreseeable future.
The move hardly comes as a surprise, as Suzuki sold just 22,231 cars and trucks in the U.S. last year with 2012 numbers showing no improvement. Recent models like the Kizashi sedan and SX4 small crossover have been generally well-received, but Suzuki’s low prices (and thus razor-thin margins) combined with weak sales do not a strong business case make. Combine that with an unfavorable yen-to-dollar exchange rate and the cost of developing new models to stringent U.S. regulatory standards, and Suzuki just cannot compete going forward.
The company will presumably continue to sell cars in Japan and in other world markets like India, where its Maruti Suzuki brand holds nearly 45% of the new car market.
January 16th, 2012
We’re still catching our breath from the unbelievable game between the San Francisco 49ers and the New Orleans Saints (the 49ers prevailed! – Ed). We saw a few new commercials, but nothing that stood out. But hey, even if you’re not a football fan, you’ve got to love the Super Bowl, if nothing else for some creative high-budget advertisements. This year Suzuki, soldiering on in the U.S. despite sales of just 26,619 in 2011, will return to the Big Game with another winter-themed commercial to highlight its sporty 2012 Kizashi midsize and its available all-wheel drive.
While the new ad hasn’t broken cover yet, a teaser shot reveals vast snowy expanses, Eskimos and an igloo for the Kizashi to play around with. Until this year’s Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 5, have a look at last year’s fun Suzuki spot, featuring evil floating snowmen chasing the all-wheel drive Kizashi and pelting it with snow balls.
July 7th, 2011
With so many cars available, it’s tough to choose just one. We’ve come up with the following list of vehicles which reflect the best value in each of their respective classes.
Subcompact | 2011 Ford Fiesta: It’s absolutely no surprise that the once beleaguered Ford had its hands full with an aging vehicle lineup. How rapidly times have changed. The Fiesta, a bonafide bargain in terms of fuel efficiency (28 mpg city, 37 mpg highway) and price has its sights aimed squarely at the benchmark in the class: the 2011 Honda Fit. The Fiesta features a whole lot for just a little, and that’s the very definition of value. And with a respectable 120 horsepower on tap, you won’t be left in the slow lane. But the best part has to be its price. The 2011 Ford Fiesta starts at just $13,200.
Compact | 2011 Hyundai Elantra: It’s no secret that we’ve been talking a whole lot about the 2011 Hyundai Elantra. Maybe that’s because it’s such a breath of fresh air in an otherwise monotonous class of cars. By endowing the Elantra with such great fuel economy (29/40 mpg), Hyundai has set the bar pretty high—leaving Toyota and Honda scrambling to bring their next-gen compacts up to par. With styling, fuel economy and a low price point on its side, this once-overlooked Korean compact is finally getting its due. The 2011 Hyundai Elantra starts at just $14,830.
Midsize | 2011 Kia Optima: Most industry insiders quipped that it simply was the classic question of when, not if, the aging Accord would be dethroned from its space on the proverbial podium in which it occupied for so long. Well, it happened. Consumer Reports recently ranked the 2011 Optima ahead of the 2011 Honda Accord in a comparison test between the two four-cylinder midsize sedans. The EPA ratings for the 2.4-liter 2011 Optima at 24 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway with the six-speed manual, 24 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway with the six-speed automatic. Handsome looks, excellent fuel economy and a class-leading warranty all add up to one big value that’s tough to beat. The 2011 Kia Optima starts at just $18,995.
Luxury | 2011 Lincoln MKZ: This one was tough. With so many luxury sedans on the market, picking just one takes a lot of analyzing. But in the end, the 2011 Lincoln MKZ’s balanced approach beat out the best Germany had to offer. We’re not talking all-out performance, but value. The MKZ is a perfectly competent luxury sedan that comes nicely equipped. It also offers a delicate balance of tout handling and a smooth, comfortable ride. The 2011 Lincoln MKZ starts at just $34,645.
Sports | 2012 Ford Mustang: So, do you want a fast, sexy and fun-to-drive car? Do you want 29 mpg on the highway? How about racecar-like handling and big, beefy brakes? Look no further. The 2012 Ford Mustang is by far the best Mustang to date. It offers all the above in a package that everyone can afford, while still having a trunk big enough to load up with groceries on those monumental trips to Costco. It’s the ultimate value in the sports car class. The 2012 Ford Mustang starts at just $22,310.
Minivan | 2011 Honda Odyssey: The minivan bellies the tang of the quintessential step into adulthood that may seem like the point of no return. Honda’s has altered that feeling with the release of their all-new 2011 Honda Odyssey. The new Odyssey sports design tweaks that makes the vehicle appear much sportier and futuristic. The Odyssey also features an interior that promises to not only be the most well-appointed and comfortable in the minivan class, but the most utilitarian, as well, complete with the highly-sought after feature like fold flat 2nd and 3rd row seats—perfect for when you have that late-night itch to pick up a dozen sheets of plywood from Home Depot. The 2011 Honda Odyssey starts at just $28,075.
SUV | 2011 Ford Explorer: In 1990, the Ford Explorer changed the automotive landscape permanently. Big, bold builds were beautiful, and nobody questioned the sheer inefficiency that the Explorer exhibited. That would change. Tires blew up. Explorers rolled over. A massive recall ensued. And then, fuel prices skyrocketed. The combination almost killed the Explorer, and more notably, the SUV class as we knew it. Enter the all-new 2011 Ford Explorer. Groundbreaking is how we would sum it up. It’s the first Explorer to evolve from the traditional body-on-frame platform to a more sophisticated unibody structure, making it lighter and better in almost every way. And Ford didn’t stop there. It offers the most for the smallest amount of money in the SUV class. The 2011 Ford Explorer starts at just $28,360.
Crossover | 2011 Kia Sportage: Okay, so this one technically shouldn’t count since its only been out for a couple of months, but it’s hard to ignore what it has to offer: masculine styling, 29-31 mpg on the highway and utility starting at under $20k. The Sportage is powered by a stout 2.4L 176-horsepower 4-cylinder engine mated to a standard 6-speed automatic transmission. The Sportage is on the smaller side of the scale in the Crossover class, but works perfectly for a family of four. Add Kia’s remarkable 10-Year 100,000 Mile Limited Powertrain Warranty and it’s easy to see why the Sportage is going to give the CR-V and RAV4 a run for their money. The 2011 Kia Sportage starts at just $18,295.
Compact Truck | 2011 Suzuki Equator: Suzuki? Yup. We have to give credit where it’s due, and this year, Suzuki stepped up to the plate to offer a truck that’s worth a strong look. It’s based off the 2011 Nissan Frontier, but offers a lower price and longer warranty. It makes short work of light duty towing and hauling and gets 19 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway—both excellent numbers in this particular class. The 2011 Suzuki Equator starts at just $17,995.
Overall Best Value | 2011 MINI Cooper: MINI, a name chock full of heritage, fun, efficiency and….value? No doubt about it. This was hands-down the easiest pick out of the vehicles mentioned here. The 2011 MINI Cooper gets a remarkable 37 mpg on the highway and will give you ear-to-ear grins on even the shortest of drives with a responsive 1.6L 4-cylinder engine that produces 121 horsepower. From congested city streets to wide-open country roads, the Cooper’s handling and solid, billet-like feel will make believers who assume otherwise. The Cooper is big on value with a price won’t break the bank. The 2011 MINI Cooper starts at only $19,400.
May 11th, 2011
Car manufacturers are ready to unveil their newest technologies which assist in providing better fuel economy using lithium-ion batteries, regenerative brake features and start/stop technology. One such company is Suzuki, which unveiled its new Suzuki Kizashi EcoCharge Concept car at the 2011 New York Auto Show. Besides the new tech the car features a 2.0 liter inline-four engine as well as low rolling resistance tires.
With all these new goodies the Kizashi, which has a fuel economy rating of 30 mpg on the highway, will now achieve 37.5 mpg in EcoCharge trim. That’s a 25 percent improvement. Suzuki claims that the engine generates 144 horsepower and 127 lbs.-ft. of torque.
Other features that caught the eyes of observers were the aluminum alloy wheels, special headlight treatment and LED fog lights that are integrated into the front bumper.
Suzuki continues to claim that the EcoCharge is still a concept and that there are no plans to make a production model. Still, many may not be surprised if Suzuki changes its mind as the price of gas nears the $5-per-gallon tipping point.
MSRP pricing for the current Suzuki Kizashi ranges from $18,999 to $27,299. Expect the EcoCharge to carry a premium of around $2,500 to start over the standard model, should the car make it to production.