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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.
Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru, Mitsubishi, Suzuki and Daihatsu have announced an alliance that will see a push to improve fuel economy from both gas-powered and diesel-powered engines by as much as 30 percent before the end of the decade.
The newly assembled Research Association of Automotive Internal Combustion Engines put the roughly $20-million project together, with the Japanese government committing to half the cost while the eight manufacturers will chip in the rest.
According to Automotive News, the automakers will team up and share basic research on internal-combustion engines in a bid to cut costs. Eventually, the results of the research will find its way into a production vehicle, although it's unclear just when we'll see the fruits of this partnership on the road.
It had been planned for 2014 but it's going to be 2015 instead - that's when Suzuki returns to the manufacturer ranks of MotoGP after quitting the series at the end of 2011 because of The Great Recession. When Suzuki stopped after 37 continuous years of racing, it said it intended to return three years later and it has been in talks with MotoGP's rights holder, Dorna Sports, since last year. No doubt, though, that fan anticipation of the team's return outdoes any dismay at the delay. It will join Yamaha, Honda and Ducati in the premiere league.
Its bike has already been testing in Japan and was with the official MotoGP tribe in Barcelona, Spain on Monday when Suzuki announced its return. It's said the development bike is called the XRH-1, being ridden by official tester Randy de Puniet (who currently races in MotoGP on an Aprilia-based bike with TeamAspar). and after a day of testing de Puniet got the new Suzuki to within seven-tenths of a second of the top time posted by other MotoGP teams. Davide Brivio, who once ran the Fiat-Yamaha team and has been close with Valentino Rossi, will be the team manager.
Speaking of Rossi, The Doctor is back with Fiat-Yamaha after a bad run with Ducati but is only contracted to the end of 2014. Brivio is the man who got Rossi to join Fiat-Yamaha, then got him to Ducati. Until he took the head of Suzuki's works effort, Brivio was working with Rossi's VR46 management company, heading areas like merchandising. The rumormill has already begun its work, with folks wondering if Rossi will head to Suzuki in 2015 if his second stint at Yamaha doesn't prove fruitful before then. Scroll down below for the official press release from Suzuki.