2012 Suzuki SX4 SportBack
Back in November, on the final day of a fiercely fought U.S. presidential election, Suzuki announced that it was leaving the American auto market. After years of slumping sales, the automaker's U.S. division decided to file for bankruptcy and focus its attention on Suzuki's successful lineup of ATVs, boats, and motorcycles.
Ironically, Suzuki auto sales have surged since the announcement. In fact, the company reports selling 2,224 units in November, a year-over-year increase of 22%. Sales of the SX4 were particularly strong, up 42% year-over-year.
Though the figures for December aren't in, early reports suggest that they'll ring in higher, too. In fact, Bloomberg says that Suzuki has imported an additional 2,500 vehicles to help meet consumer demand. The surge is largely due to big incentives and seven-year warranties that will continue to be honored despite the bankruptcy.
For Suzuki, it's a sad case of "day late and a dollar short" -- though technically speaking, it's several years late and many millions of dollars short. Suzuki's chief restructuring officer, M. Freddie Reiss, says that the automaker was selling about 120,000 vehicles a year before 2008. Now, 69% of its U.S. dealers sell five vehicles or fewer each month. Reiss says the company will finish 2012 having sold about 22,000 vehicles (although we're not sure how that's possible, since official tallies pegged year-to-date sales around 23,113 units as of November 31).
If there are any Suzuki fans holding out hope that the spike in sales will convince Suzuki to change course, we're afraid that ship set sail last week from a bankruptcy court in California. In Santa Ana on Thursday, Suzuki won a series of judgments to facilitate the bankruptcy process, including settlements with its U.S. dealers. Franchisees will receive half of what they're owed from the automaker immediately, and the other half as the bankruptcy case progresses.
If you own a Suzuki that's still under warranty, the automaker's website says that your warranty will remain valid. For additional details, you're encouraged to contact your local Suzuki dealership (while it's still around).