American Suzuki Files for Bankruptcy *Updated*

Closes U.S. car division and restructures to focus on long-term growth of Motorcycles/ATV and Marine Divisions.

2011 Suzuki GSX-R750

2011 Suzuki GSX-R750

Please see updated information following the original post.

American Suzuki Motor Corporation announced today that it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and will cease automobile sales in the U.S. A letter to customers from Takashi Iwatsuki, chairman of ASMC, said, “The most important thing for you to know is that we intend to continue to operate our Motorcycles/ATV and Marine businesses as usual. We firmly believe the actions we are taking will allow us to continue to deliver the exciting and innovative motorcycle, ATV and marine products that have made Suzuki one of the most famous and reliable names in the industry.”

The company cited “low sales volumes, a limited number of models in its line-up, unfavorable foreign exchange rates, the high costs associated with growing and maintaining an automotive distribution system in the continental U.S. and the disproportionally high and increasing costs associated with stringent state and federal regulatory requirements unique to the U.S. market” as the main reasons that it would stop selling cars in the States.

Assurances were made that the company would continue to support current automotive customers by honoring warranty claims and providing parts and service support, saying that its car dealers will be “largely transitioned to support consumers.”

A new U.S. subsidiary will be formed and will retain the ASMC brand name.

Calls to Suzuki for comment were not returned.

Full press releases behind the links:

Since this story was posted, Steve Bortolamedi, senior communications manager of the motorcycle/ATV division, responded to our inquiry about the American Suzuki Motor Corporation bankruptcy filing and restructuring of the company.

“We’re moving forward,” said Bortolamedi by telephone. “It’s difficult to talk about positives when you lost people . The whole purpose, though, is so Suzuki can focus on its core strengths in the U.S. markets. Ultimately, will invest even more in our product. As the smoke clears, we’ll be more positive. There is a light, and we’re excited about that. Suzuki has done everything we can to protect our customers and our motorcycle and marine dealers. The dealer meeting is our fourth phase of product introduction. ASMC plans to have exciting new motorcycles, ATVs and scooters each and every year moving forward. This is all about Suzuki wanting to focus on its core strengths in the U.S. market.”

Bortolamedi added that there would be “minimal impact on the structure of the motorcycle/ATV business” in the short term, and reiterated that Suzuki would be making investments in the reformed ASMC in the long term. When we discussed the state of ASMC’s business over the past four years, particularly the “skipped” 2010 model year, Bortolamedi replied, “In 2010 we took a different approach. We stood back and decided not to overwhelm our dealers with too much product. When you skip a model year, it affects your R&D;, but we are now moving forward and you’ll see new product start to get released.”