Suzuki is in a pinch. Thanks to quirky (read: not so attractive) styling, iffy product quality, fuzzy brand image, and a small American network of dealerships, Suzuki hasn't gained much traction in the U.S. What's worse, the automaker seems to be hemorrhaging market share: Suzuki's slice of the pie has been trimmed from .7% in 2009 to about .2% so far in 2010. To counter that trend and to get a jump on the summer competition, Suzuki is now offering something that every car buyer can appreciate: three months of free gas.
The gas comes by way of a debit card, packed with $280 to $442 in cash (which you could, in theory, use for things other than gas, so in a way, it's essentially a cash-back promotion). Suzuki is offering the card to anyone who purchases a 2010 Equator, Grand Vitara, Kizashi, SX4, SX4 Crossover, SX4 Sport sedan, or SportBack. You might recall that Suzuki ran a similar promotion last year, though that one was limited to the SX4.
With summer gas prices on the rise (as usual), Suzuki's promotion could turn the heads of some new-car shoppers. Surely the automaker is hoping that the offer will help generate sales of its critically lauded Kizashi -- Suzuki's well-executed attempt to gain a foothold in the crowded mid-size market. And to its credit, Suzuki is certainly getting out ahead of its competitors in making such a deal.
On the other hand, we all remember similar promotions that popped up in 2008, like the guarantee of $2.99-a-gallon gas for three years from Chrysler. We also remember how rapidly gas prices dropped almost as soon as summer ended, effectively rendering such offers moot. Although Suzuki's deal is for just three months -- enough to get drivers through the pricey vacation period -- we wouldn't be surprised if customers were wary of "free gas" offers altogether. Well, until prices hit $4 a gallon; then all bets are off.