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Auto blogTue, 02 Oct 2012
Way back in 2004, Volkswagen took umbrage with Suzuki being granted permission to use the nameplate "SWIFT GTi" for a performance variant of its small-car offering (2012 equivalent seen here). Now, eight years and surely some very steep legal bills later, VW has finally dropped its claim against Suzuki.
The General Court of the European Union stated, back in March of this year, that Suzuki's GTi registration could not be confused with VW's "Golf GTI." Volkswagen had appealed that ruling, though has now reportedly called off the dogs. In fact, Germany's Die Welt reports that the appeal has been dead for several weeks now.
This news comes amongst continued arbitration acrimony between the two automakers, all revolving around VW's forced divestiture of nearly 20-percent stake it purchased in Suzuki some two years ago.
As much as we knew it was a possibility, we have to say that Suzuki's announcement this afternoon that it is filing chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings caught us a bit off guard. American Suzuki Motor Corporation - the sole distributor of Suzuki automobiles in the United States - will realign its business to focus on motorcycles, ATVs and the marine market.
What does this mean in simple terms? In short, new Suzuki cars and trucks will no longer be sold by Suzuki in the United States once current supplies run out. Period.
Suzuki cites "low sales volumes, a limited number of models in its lineup, unfavorable foreign exchange rates, the high costs associated with growing and maintaining an automotive distribution system in the continental US and the disproportionally high and increasing costs associated with stringent state and federal regulatory requirements unique to the US market."
Suzuki has won approval for its Chapter 11 plan to stop selling cars in the US and concentrate instead on the company's powersports products. Judge Scott C. Clarkson of the US Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California approved the plan after the company's creditors agreed to the conditions.
Suzuki will now sell its motorcycle, ATV and marine divisions to the newly minted Suzuki Motor of America subsidiary under the Suzuki name. The new company will be wholly owned by Suzuki Motor Company. This is the final piece of the company's restructuring puzzle.
The company says it will now be able to grow its powersports businesses here in the US and also provide auto parts and service to current Suzuki owners through what's left of the company's dealer network. You can check out the brief press release on the bankruptcy plan below.