Successful Grand Vitara Launch, Expanded Dealer Network and Increased Brand Awareness Highlight Record-Setting 2005DETROIT, Jan. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- American Suzuki Motor Corporation (ASMC) continues to charge forward in the new year and build on all its recent success. In 2006, ASMC will look to make significant strides toward its goal to triple sales by the end of 2007.
A few ASMC milestones from last year include:
* U.S. sales in 2005 were up 11 percent over 2004, as Suzuki sold an all-time high 82,101 vehicles, the best sales year in company history. * Suzuki sales in 2005 were led by the Grand Vitara and the Forenza family of vehicles -- up 78 and 67 percent respectively, over 2004. * Monthly sales of the media-acclaimed 2006 Grand Vitara, which arrived in dealerships in early September, continued to skyrocket in the fourth quarter, increasing 145 percent in October, 241 percent in November and an impressive 316 percent in December. * The all-new Grand Vitara recently was named "Best Kept Secret of 2006" by Autobytel and received a North American Truck of the Year award nomination. * In October, the Suzuki Forenza Wagon was named one of Edmunds.com's "2005 Top 10 Cars Under $15,000." * Suzuki continued to sustain retail momentum, bolstering its U.S. dealer network in 2005. More than two-thirds of Suzuki dealers have signed up for the company's Suzuki Square program, which offers buyers a unique, shopper-friendly environment. * Suzuki's new and invigorating "Way of Life" brand advertising campaign, which launched in September, is increasing brand awareness and catapulting the company into the outdoor enthusiast automotive landscape. * With four additional vehicles set to debut as part of Suzuki's plan to triple U.S. vehicle sales by 2007 -- two to launch this year -- Suzuki's demographic reach and consumer appeal will continue to expand.
"We are pleased with Suzuki's accelerated sales growth in 2005 and look forward to a strong year," said Koichi Suzuki, president of American Suzuki Automotive Operations. "With the increasing popularity of the all-new Grand Vitara, two new vehicle introductions and an aggressive marketing/advertising effort to communicate and promote brand awareness, Suzuki is well positioned for a solid 2006."
New Vehicle Introductions
Providing the U.S. market with another fun-to-drive vehicle that is both practical and economical, ASMC will introduce the all-new Suzuki SX4 in 2006. The versatile five-door features an available all-wheel-drive system, sophisticated 2.0 liter DOHC engine and will offer customers the choice of a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. The SX4 will make its North American debut at the 2006 New York International Auto Show and is scheduled to arrive in dealer showrooms in the fall.
In addition to the SX4, Suzuki will introduce the all-new XL7 a mid-size, seven-passenger, SUV at the New York International Auto Show in April.
Expanded Product Line
With the introduction of the all-new 2006 Grand Vitara, Suzuki offers an even more impressive and versatile product line, which also includes the popular Forenza sedan and Forenza Wagon, the five-door Reno, the Aerio and Aerio SX, the Verona and the Suzuki XL-7, one of America's most affordable seven-passenger SUVs.
The five-passenger Grand Vitara comes in one trim level with three optional packages and a starting MSRP of $19,199. The Grand Vitara features an available shift-on-the-fly four-mode four-wheel-drive system and tough unibody construction, enhanced with a built-in ladder frame to deliver off-road capability. The fully independent suspension provides quiet comfort and control on roads and trails.
The Forenza family of vehicles, which includes the Forenza Wagon, Forenza sedan and Reno, offers eye-catching style, impressive standard feature content and inspired road handling for 2006. The Forenza Wagon and Forenza sedan come in one well-equipped model with one available upgrade package. Prices begin at $13,799 for the Forenza sedan and $14,499 for the Forenza Wagon. New to the market in the 2005 model year, the five-door Reno returns in 2006 with a simplified model strategy, new features and a lower price. MSRP for the 2006 Reno starts at $13,299.
Expanded Dealer Network
As part of its 357 Plan, Suzuki continued to strengthen its U.S. dealer network in 2005 through new programs and initiatives designed to make Suzuki franchises more competitive, profitable and successful than ever before. Fueled by the success of the Suzuki Square retail brand image program, Suzuki's dealer network grew to more than 540 and is on track to reach its goal of 600 by 2007.
Intended to ensure brand consistency and customer satisfaction across all Suzuki automotive retail dealerships in the United States, Suzuki Square offers buyers a unique shopper-friendly environment featuring an open-air marketplace design, bold visual styling and themed interior and exterior displays that show how Suzuki vehicles fit various customer lifestyles. To date, the number of completed Suzuki Square dealerships in the United States stands at close to 100, and 300 dealerships are expected to have registered with the program by the end of 2006.
Beyond its expanded dealer network, Suzuki's success has been driven by a renewed and upbeat advertising and promotions effort. In September, the company launched a new campaign in conjunction with the debut of the 2006 Grand Vitara and unveiled a series of life-enthusiast advertisements to increase brand awareness.
To communicate its "Way of Life" brand essence and illustrate how its products play an integral part of consumers' active lifestyles, ASMC developed the "Suzuki Live Series" -- specially modified concept vehicles designed for life enthusiasts, adventurers and thrill-seekers. The vehicles, coined "Blizzard," for snow sports enthusiasts; "Dune," for off-road experts; "Wave," for lake sports aficionados; and "Sea," for active surfers; will continue to be displayed at various auto shows and lifestyle events around the country.
In 2006, Suzuki will look to infuse more of its "Way of Life" brand essence into national programs/initiatives, including partnerships and sponsorships, as well as local-based dealer efforts.
About American Suzuki
The Automotive Operations of American Suzuki Motor Corporation (ASMC), Brea, Calif., was founded in 1985 by Suzuki Motor Corporation. ASMC markets its vehicles in the United States through a network of more than 540 automotive dealerships in 49 states. ASMC's parent company, Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC), based in Hamamatsu, Japan, is a diversified worldwide automobile, motorcycle and outboard motors manufacturer with sales of more than 2 million new vehicles annually. Founded in 1909 and incorporated in 1920, it has operations in 125 countries. For more information, go to www.suzukiauto.com or www.media.suzuki.com.
Source: American Suzuki Motor Corporation