Will American Suzuki Quit Selling Cars in 2013?

American Suzuki’s days as a seller of passenger vehicles may soon be over, as its sales continue to fall in a market that is steadily growing. Through the first five months of 2012 Suzuki’s sales are down nearly 4 percent, selling just 10,695 vehicles through May. The company builds all its U.S.-spec vehicles in Japan and must endure a profit-eating yen as it seeks to compete against manufacturers with a U.S. presence.

Disappearing Brands

Suzuki KizashiThe 24/7 Wall St. website has included Suzuki among the 10 brands it expects will disappear in 2013, the lone car manufacturer featured. The website has made several spot-on predictions in recent years including the demise of Saab and Blockbuster. Curiously, it has missed the mark badly too, predicting that Kia would fold. That latter pronouncement was an oddity given that Kia is part of the Hyundai Kia Automotive Group, the fourth largest car manufacturer in the world.

Auto Trends has been expecting Suzuki’s exit from the U.S. market for several years. Although we have found its midsize Kizashi sedan (pictured) to be competitive, no other model in its limited line-up is a good competitor. As of this writing, American Suzuki is offering 0 percent financing for 72 months across its model line, underscoring the desperate plight of this manufacturer.

American Withdrawal

Auto Trends is warning its readers that buying a Suzuki could leave them with a vehicle that will be difficult to service many years down the line. If the company withdraws from the U.S. market, it will likely honor its warranties, but the limited number of repair shops available even today could present a headache for owners later on. Suzuki appears destined to join two other small Japanese automakers that have exited the market in recent years: Isuzu and Daihatsu.

Suzuki quality is well below that of leading Japanese automotive manufacturers such as Toyota and Honda. In the 2012 J.D. Power and Associates’ 2012 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study, Suzuki came in at 167 problems per 100 vehicles, well below the 132 ppv average.

Other Products

American Suzuki introduced its automotive arm in 1963, but is far more active in other arenas including motorcycles, all terrain vehicles and marine products. Other signs that Suzuki is on its way out are many and include its withdrawal from major social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, skipping important auto shows such as Detroit and Los Angeles, while its dealer network continues to shrink, falling below 250 dealers that sell on average less than five vehicles per month. Lastly, American Suzuki’s director of product planning, marketing and sales training, Steve Younan, left the company in January, and isn’t being replaced according to Automotive News.