Well, the writing has been on the wall for years, but now it’s official: Suzuki will stop selling new passenger vehicles in the U.S. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this evening and will stop selling new cars in the U.S. The company’s marine engine and motorcycle business units will continue as going concerns, and the filing does not impact American Suzuki’s Japan-based parent company, Suzuki Motor Co., Ltd.
It is amazing how a seemingly minor change can impact the personality of a car. I have had a crush on the Suzuki Kizashi since I first laid my eyes on one at a press event years ago. I couldn’t believe that Suzuki had made something so handsome and well equipped. The first time I saw one, I was not allowed to drive it, but I did get a chance to sit inside and get talked through the interior. My amazement continued when I found a nice looking layout, a strong stereo, and an extensive list of potential options. Options that, at the time, had out-ranked most everything in its class. Last week I had the chance to spend a week with one and I did not get quite what I expected. Read on to find out why. Continue Reading →
By Chris Haak
To all of our readers in the United States, we at Autosavant wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. We here have a lot to be thankful for, not the least of which is our best traffic month in Autosavant’s five-year history. As you eat turkey with all the fixings and watch football, then later ponder your Black Friday strategy, I thought it would be funny to share part of Suzuki’s goofy press release. (My favorite part? Calling their own coffee “marginal.”)
By Charles Krome
I’ll start by saying the Kizashi gets the highest praise I can give a vehicle: I’d actually use my own money to buy one. Maybe not this exact model, but certainly the Sport SLS or GTS without the all-wheel-drive system. Yes, you trade away some amount of grip, but you make up for it by getting a six-speed manual transmission, five more horsepower and a slightly lighter car. And at that stage, you’d be sitting in a nimble near-premium sport sedan with a surprising amount of pep, a well-crafted and roomy interior, and a sub-$25,000 starting price—a combination you really can’t get anywhere else.
By Chris Haak
In a move that surprised nearly every industry analyst, Japanese automaker Suzuki has entered into an tentative agreement to purchase Ford Motor Company’s worldwide operations. Included in the deal are Ford’s US operations, Ford Europe, Ford Asia-Pacific, and Ford Latin America. Suzuki has tendered an offer to purchase all 3.78 billion outstanding shares of Ford at a price of $14.91 per share.
If the transaction is approved by Ford’s shareholders, Suzuki would instantly transform from an also-ran in the US market to a top-tier player, holding similar dominance in the US market to what it enjoys in India with Maruti Suzuki. Since Suzuki is not a full-line automaker in the US, the addition of the Ford vehicles will certainly bolster its lineup, particularly on the truck front.
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By Chris Haak
It goes without saying that in the devastating earthquake and follow-up tsunami that hit Japan last Friday, the largest cost will be a human one. Thousands of people have been killed, and the death toll is going to continue to rise in the coming days and weeks as cleanup and recovery operations progress.
There’s also an economic cost to the disaster. Early estimates are that reconstruction costs might exceed $35 billion USD, to say nothing of the diversion of resources away from attempting to grow Japan’s economy and overcome a 20-year period of stagnant economic growth and immense public debt. The auto industry in Japan is not immune from these forces, and in fact has already been significantly impacted by the disaster, with more to come.
By Chris Haak
Since the launch of the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox, GM has struggled to keep up with demand for its popular small crossover. First, it acquired sole ownership of the CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario from Suzuki where the Equinox and Terrain are built. Suzuki had been building the GM-based XL7 there, but the Suzuki kind of fizzled out in the market, leaving Suzuki with no product and GM with the opportunity to add to its production capacity.
Then, to further boost output, GM began shipping incomplete Equinox body shells from Ingersoll to its flexible and underutilized car plant in Oshawa for painting and final assembly. That move added 60,000 to 80,000 additional units of Equinox production capacity and allowed additional Terrain production at the original plant. Still, it’s not enough for dealers, who still report that they can’t get enough of the hot-selling vehicles, more than a year after their launch. Last month, dealers had only a 30 day supply of new Equinoxes in inventory, which is half of the ideal 60-day level.
By Chris Haak
In this design-centric era in which we live, many of us – myself included – have fallen victim to buying the best-looking item, and not necessarily the most efficient or most practical one. The iPhone 4 looks so great – but you can’t hold it a certain way in low-signal areas and expect to make a call.
Some folks, though, do prefer keeping things simple. They want a phone that doesn’t text, take pictures, have Internet access, or have a touchscreen. For them, the Suzuki SX4 SportBack may be just the ticket. It’s not a beautiful car – it has an unfashionably large daylight opening with its tall roofline and low door sills – and it’s not a performance car. However, it most certainly is an honest, competent piece of basic transportation.
By Chris Haak
Call it naïveté, call it giving folks the benefit of the doubt, call it whatever you want to. But as a long-time buff book reader (I subscribed to Motor Trend continuously between 1987 and July 2010, or about 23 years), I never paid much mind to critics that accused media outlets of providing favorable editorial coverage for certain manufacturers and vehicles in return for advertising dollars. Is the Motor Trend Car of the Year award driven by the best car, or by the best advertiser? I’d always assumed that these magazines would take the high road and provide a fair and accurate description of the industry and its vehicles so that their readers could make informed choices when considering how to part with their hard-earned money.
But sitting at the breakfast table this morning with my newly-arrived October 2010 Road & Track, reading a single paragraph almost made me spit out my Cookie Crisp cereal. At once, this single paragraph caused me to completely discount nearly everything else that I had read and was about to read in this magazine, and indeed, in many magazines. The paragraph in question is found in R&T‘s “New Cars for 2011″ section, a 28-page spread that highlights the changes to 2011 model-year vehicls with nary a critical comment. That in and of itself is not reason to raise eyebrows, as “buyer’s guides” that tiptoe around a car’s shortcomings are certainly nothing new, but here’s what raised my hackles.
By Charles Krome
Okay, here’s another one for the “what were they thinking?” file:
Let’s say you’ve got an auto company that’s seen some relatively big success outside of the U.S. but has never quite found its mojo in the states. Not so many years ago you were selling 100,000 vehicles a year here, but at this stage in the game, your total monthly sales are under the 2,000-unit mark and your best-seller in July only found 788 customers.
But one of those products is a sharp new mid-size sedan with notably nimble handling—its development included the requisite trip to the Nurburgring—as well as a trunkful of kudos from reviewers, third-party quality groups and customers alike. For what it’s worth, the vehicle was even rated as the top car from the whole industry in the 2010 AutoPacific Ideal Vehicle Awards.
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