Drive Type: 4 wheel drive
Trim: 2 door
Waterford Works, New Jersey, United States
Yesterday's announcement that American Suzuki has filed for bankruptcy is all but a death blow for the Japanese automaker's 246 US dealers, but if there's any good news coming out of the situation, it could be the fact that the whole process will likely be quick and painless rather than drawn out. WardsAuto is reporting that with the current inventory and average sales numbers so far this year, there figures to be about three months left for Suzuki's new-car business in the US given current sales rates.
In October, Suzuki sold 2,023 units - a five percent increase over last year - but with just 5,549 left in inventory, it shouldn't take too long to wind down operations. Sales for the brand peaked 2007 with more than 100,000 units sold, but this year, Suzuki is barely on pace to reach a quarter of that amount, with just 21,188 units sold so far in 2012. In addition to poor sales, WardsAuto also notes that Suzuki faced problems due to its reliance on customers with subprime credit.
Suzuki will continue to sell motorcycles, ATVs and marine engines in the US, while the brand's cars will still be on sale in other countries including Canada and Mexico.
Suzuki's plant in Manesar, India builds cars for Australia, specifically its Alto small car. Or at least they were building cars before violent worker riots forced the factory to close. The plant has been idled for five weeks as a result of worker violence that led to the death of one manager and 95 injuries. The riot was spurred over a labor dispute - specifically, a gulf in salaries between temporary workers and their salaried counterparts who earn triple the contract workers' wages.
According to reports, on Tuesday, the factory re-opened with more than 1,200 police officers stationed around the plant. The staff of actual workers at the plant numbers just 75 currently, meaning the police force greatly outnumbers Suzuki employees.
The number of employees will eventually grow to 300, and the officers will run in shifts of 100 at a time, but the initial disparity of workers to police is meant as a show of force to the more than 500 permanent and 500 temporary workers who were found to be involved in a July 18 riot.
Say what you will about its smallest SUVs, but you have to hand it to Suzuki: the likes of the Samurai, Sidekick and Vitara were doing the little-sport-ute-that-could thing long before most of the rest of the industry caught on. And the formula remains relevant enough that Suzuki is still selling the same basic Samurai overseas as the Jimny.
That could be why the Samurai still has something of a cult following. Well, that and the name - which, as it turns out, may not have been such a stretch after all. A Samurai warrior, after all, was just one man - but like any other knight, he was worth more than his headcount on the battlefield. Or in this case, a Japanese snowstorm. Just watch the half-minute video below to see what we mean.