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Suzuki wants slice of U.S. market
By JOHN O'DELL
Los Angeles Times
05/01/2004

At home, even mighty Toyota bows in deference to Suzuki Motor Corp., which has dominated Japan's mini-car market for decades.

But Suzuki's tiniest models - built for Japan's narrow roads - aren't marketed in the United States, and its conventional cars and sport utility vehicles are rarely more than afterthoughts for Americans. Last year, the company's U.S. operating arm, American Suzuki Motor Corp., sold 14 percent fewer vehicles than it did in 2002. It captured less than half of 1 percent of the U.S. market. Among Japanese automakers, only Isuzu Motors America Inc. did worse.

Suzuki is aiming to make a U-turn in the United States. It plans to introduce nine new or redesigned models by 2007, many of them from a joint venture in South Korea with General Motors Corp., which owns 20 percent of Suzuki. The goal: to triple U.S. sales to 200,000 vehicles by 2007.

There are signs of improvement already. Suzuki's U.S. sales jumped 24 percent in the first quarter, with two new models from the South Korea plant accounting for the growth.

The company wants to convince consumers its cars and SUVs "offer more value for less money," marketing director Tom Carney said.

To spread the word, Suzuki will spend $100 million on marketing in the United States this year, up from $56 million in 2003.

The company "needs to build trust in its products," said Dan Gorrell, vice president of Strategic Vision, an auto industry research firm based in San Diego.

Charlie Vogelheim, executive editor of the Kelley Blue Book, said he believes Suzuki will boost sales, but doubts the company will hit its goal of 200,000 a year by 2007. "You've got to wonder where all those new buyers will come from," he said.

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Suzuki needs to do what Honda did in the 70's. Apply its awesome motorcycle technology to its cars. Plain and simple. Thats why both Honda's bikes and cars have the street cred they do. Suzuki has street cred with its bikes. Bring out some of the "Gixxer" based concepts and they'll have something. Honda is losing its grasp on the tuner market, time for Suzuki to step with something new and exciting that isn't a Daewoo. Although, the Daewoo based cars are good values that'll bring home the bacon until they can do something of their own, a sporty, efficient, and good looking "real" Suzuki will be the hit they need to reach their goals.
 

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i always wondered what was really keeping suzuki afloat, ive kind of been blind to how they do in japan, its hard to think of a car company that struggles so hard here as a dominating force other places.
 

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I think they might soon be a player against Honda even...
 
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