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Suzuki Sales Surge as Maker Prepares to Leave US

But no reprieve planned.

by on Dec.24, 2012

Suddenly, buyers galore for the Suzuki Kizashi.

As folk singer Joni Mitchell might have put it: “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone?”

With American Suzuki Motor Corp. preparing to close its automotive operations in the coming year sales have suddenly surged in ways that the Japanese company could have only dreamed of in recent years.  In fact, the maker has had to increase imports from Japan to meet surging demand – a move that required approval from a U.S. bankruptcy judge.

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Sales in November surged 22%, to 2,224 vehicles and, according to the maker, demand is strong this month, as well.  Of course, an expanded, 7-year warranty and a big increase in incentives meant to clear out dealer lots has certainly helped.


So Long, Suzuki

Japanese maker abandoning US market.

by on Nov.06, 2012

The failure of the Kizashi sedan seemed to seal American Suzuki's fate.

In the face of steadily falling sales, American Suzuki Motor Corporation of Brea, Calif. is going to stop selling cars in the United States.

The American subsidiary of Japan’s Suzuki Motor Co. has filed for bankruptcy in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California as a prelude to withdrawing from the U.S. automobile market. Suzuki’s withdrawal continues the reduction in the number of brands sold in the U.S. that began in 2009 when Isuzu left. Saab collapsed last year and now Suzuki joins the list.

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By winding down its U.S. automobile marketing business, Suzuki plans to concentrate on its motorcycle, ATV and marine products businesses. As a result, SMC’s distribution of its automobiles in the continental United States will be discontinued. The company sold only 2,000 passenger cars to American consumers in October and said it had lost more than $95 million during the past two fiscal years, according to the bankruptcy filing.


First Drive: Suzuki Kizashi Sport SLS

Budget sports sedan has exclusivity on its side.

by on May.17, 2011

The Suzuki Kizashi: Exclusive and sporty at a budget price.

Metro Detroiters are known for noticing new metal. Because of the primary industry in this area, it seems that people notice when a new car is rolling along in the lane next to them.

But certain cars seem to attract more attention than others. The Suzuki Kizashi Sport is one of them. Even though this is the second model year for the car, you don’t see a lot of them in the Detroit area because of Suzuki’s low market penetration here. In a week of driving, several drivers craned to get a better look and one man in a parking lot asked about it.

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So what we have here is a rare, finely styled budget sports sedan that makes onlookers do a double take. Yeah, that’s right, take your see-them-at-every-street-corner 3-Series BMWs and Audi A4s and stick ‘em. The Kizashi has sharp styling that you won’t see every day.


Suzuki Determined to Remain in U.S. Market

Reports of imminent departure greatly exaggerated.

by on Feb.10, 2011

Sales may be slow, but those who have bought the Suzuki Kizashi rate it highly.

Suzuki has no intention of withdrawing from the U.S. automotive market.

“That’s a very bad rumor,” Kinji “Kevin” Saito, the president of American Suzuki Motor Corp., told during an exclusive interview at the Chicago Auto Show.

Suzuki suffered badly during  the recession as its sales total plunged sharply for two consecutive year – despite the launch of significant new product, such as the midsize Kizashi sedan.  But the start of the new model-year in October brought a revival of its fortunes.

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Suzuki has every intention of remaining in the American market, Saito said, over dinner, and believes there are plenty of drivers in the midsize segment who appreciate the firm handling, sporty feel and power of the Kizashi sedan.

The Kizashi, which Suzuki brought to market in 2009, can still outperform either the Toyota Camry or Honda Accord, which have traditionally dominated in the mid-sized segment, the small Japanese maker believes. Suzuki’s goal is to find buyers who want a more sporty feel in their vehicle than with those mainstream models, Saito said.


Ford Makes Gains As Toyota Tumbles

Recalls, quality glitches hurt Japanese maker while new Ford products connect with market, says new study.

by on Jul.15, 2010

The Ford Fusion (the hybrid version shown here) had the highest loyalty of any model in the U.S. market during the first quarter.

While the U.S. car market has “clearly turned the corner” from last year’s decades-low slump, this year’s slow turnaround is treating some makers better than others – and threatens the very survival of some marques.

Domestic makers are, on the whole, gaining ground according to an analysis of first-quarter 2010 new vehicle registration data, though the clear winner is Ford Motor Co.  For imports, the situation is more mixed.  Honda and Nissan were able to make some gains, reports research firm Experian Automotive, but the ongoing series of safety recalls and quality glitches clearly took a toll on the industry giant, Toyota.

“Toyota was the only major manufacturer (other than Chrysler) not up by double digits” during the first three months of 2010, noted Jeffrey Anderson, Experian’s Director of Consulting & Analytics.

Significantly, the damage to Toyota’s image is having an impact in the market, especially among those motorists who the company has long counted on to keep building its sales and market share.  According to Anderson, the Japanese  maker appears to be having far more trouble “conquesting.”

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“Toyota traditionally had a large chunk of its sales come from domestic buyers who never owned an import,” Anderson added, but the number of buyers “conquested” from Detroit’s Big Three brands fell by nearly half during the quarter.  That alone “probably cost” the carmaker 37,000 lost sales during the first quarter, or about 15% of its total volume.


American Automakers Dominate AutoPacific’s “Ideal Vehicles”

Koreans locked out, while Japan fall behind European brands.

by on Jul.14, 2010

The Land Rover brand may have its quality issues, but don't tell that to owners, who declared the Range Rover their ideal vehicle.

In another sign of a potential product renaissance, Detroit’s Big Three automakers dominate the latest “Ideal Vehicle Awards,” put together by the California research and consulting firm AutoPacific, Inc.

Designed to reflect the way owners rate a variety of vehicle attributes, from power to interior design, the awards focus on the cars, trucks and crossovers “owners would change the least,” explains AutoPacific President George Peterson.

The Range Rover is the top-rated vehicle in the 2010 Ideal Vehicle Awards, or IVA, reflecting the overall satisfaction owners reported with bigger vehicles.  But Large Crossover SUVs was, on the whole, the highest-rated segment.  In something of a surprise, the slow-selling Suzuki Kizashi was the top-rated passenger car in this year’s survey – and was also ranked number one in AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Awards, announced earlier this year.

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But Japanese brands fared relatively poorly, on the whole, fielding winners in only five of the IVA’s 27 categories.  Only the Koreans, who failed to take a single segment, did more poorly.  European makers narrowly bested the Japanese with six segment wins.

Considering the historically low performance of Detroit brands in consumer studies, the 2010 IVA is likely to come as a shock to many, with the domestic Big Three landing 16 segment wins.  Ford Motor Co., in particular, was the top-rated popular brand, just ahead of General Motors’ GMC nameplate.


Suzuki in the U.S. to Stay, Maker Insists

Maker vows to press on despite weakening volume.

by on Feb.11, 2010

So far, the launch of the 2010 Suzuki Kizashi hasn't done much for the brand's sales.

Contrary to speculation floating around the industry, Suzuki has no plans to stop selling cars and sport utility vehicle in the United States, senior officials are vowing.

During a press conference at the Chicago Auto Show, Suzuki Vice President Gene Brown emphasized that, “We’re here to stay.”  Questions about its long-term commitment to the market have been raised a number of times, in recent years, and surfaced, again, after General Motors bought out Suzuki’s stake in the CAMMI joint venture Suzuki helped set up, in Ingersoll, Ontario.

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With demand for its own products going, while Suzuki struggles to gain traction here, GM was eager to take over the plant to build its newest crossover vehicles. But Suzuki is looking for ways to kick-start its own sales in the U.S., one of the few global markets where it doesn’t have a strong presence.


First Look: 2010 Suzuki Kizashi

"The complete transformation of our brand."

by on Jul.30, 2009

There's a lot riding on the new midsize 2010 Suzuki Kizashi.

There's a lot riding on the new midsize 2010 Suzuki Kizashi, company officials promising it will bring "the complete transformation" of the Suzuki brand.

Few products have been asked to play such a significant role, but American Suzuki has a lot riding on the upcoming launch of its 2010 Kizashi sedan.

The Japanese maker has long been little more than a niche player in the critical U.S. market – even though it is now the world’s 11th largest automotive manufacturer.  With the addition of the midsize Kizashi to its line-up, Suzuki is hoping to move into the mainstream.  It’s an ambitious – some would say audacious – plan, with the Japanese automaker not only planning to take on big name brands, like Toyota, with its Camry, and Honda, with the Accord, but even some luxury marques, such as Acura.

Great Things to Come!

Great Things to Come!

“This product will complete the transformation of our brand,” said Gene Brown, American Suzuki’s vice president of marketing, during a preview of the 2010 Suzuki Kizashi.  The sedan will also have to help reverse a sharp sales decline, among the worst among any brand competing in the American market.

In Japanese, Kizashi means “something great is coming,” and Suzuki put that message out when it first showed the sedan, in concept car form, at the September 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show.  It reappeared, a half-year later, at the New York Auto Show.  Now, Suzuki officials confirm the production version is due to hit showrooms by the end of 2009.