I found this blog post outlining Suzuki’s plans to exit the US auto market after 27 years of selling cars here. The Japanese auto maker plans to use a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing to “effectively call it quits on American car sales,” while continuing to sell motorbikes, ATVs, and boats in the US. The blog cites poor sales and unfavorable exchange rates as the reasoning behind the exit. The Reuters article the blog references states that “Suzuki models did not catch on in the US and the company suffered from a lack of investment in new vehicles. It also struggled from the strong yen that makes it more expensive to export products from Japan.”
I think this is the exact problem that the Japanese auto makers are facing that the professor outlined in his comment on the “More Bad News for Japan’s Auto Industry” post. Suzuki sold the most cars it has ever sold in the US only six years ago at 100,000 vehicles. While this was not at all a large share of the market (0.6% of total auto sales that year), it was a 23.4% improvement and represented a peak for Suzuki. That was the year the company redesigned one of its signature models–the Grand Vitara–and introduced two brand new models –the SX4 and XL7–all to much fanfare and acclaim.
Despite this, Suzuki “grew complacent” as the professor says and fell behind after years of producing boring and limited model choices at the same time the traditional Japanese giants were turning out new and innovative models such as the Prius. It’s too bad, my Dad’s second car was a Suzuki.