Drive Type: 4 wheel drive
Trim: 2 door
Waterford Works, New Jersey, United States
American Suzuki Motor Corporation (ASMC), which declared bankruptcy in early November, has been approved by the courts for up to $100 million in debtor-in-possession financing to enable it to shutter its US car business. ASMC had received a $45 million loan from the Japanese parent company, Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC), last month in order to make repayment deals with its franchise dealers. At the same time, ASMC was awaiting final court approval of this larger loan.
Out of the newly approved funds, $50 million can be used for operations, and oddly, the other $50 million can be put toward purchases of new inventory from SMC. That's right, even as existing inventory was headed for a smooth exit with the help of incentives, customer demand for orphan Suzuki models is so strong - last month's sales were up 22 percent compared to 2011 - that ASMC plans to purchase 2,500 additional cars from SMC that were built after the bankruptcy announcement. Good news for the owners of those vehicles: the top 50 dealers, representing more than 98 percent of ASMC sales, will become parts and services centers.
The press release below has more information. Unlike its recent tenure here, the end of Suzuki cars in the US looks like it's going rather well.
It's not a secret that a few of us here at Autoblog have a crush on Japanese Kei cars. The diminutive sizes and cheeky looks of most of the segment are certainly endearing factors, but it was the sporting Kei cars of the 1990s that made for the most delicious forbidden fruit.
Suzuki's entry in that time and market space was the Cappuccino, a rear-wheel-drive coupe with a removable roof and roll bar, powered by a 657cc three-cylinder motor. The car hung around the Japanese market until 1997 (and was booted up in Gran Turismo form for years after that). Now, rumor has it that the little coupe could be getting a reboot around 2016.
The reports are still a bit short on detail; some indicate that a new Cappuccino could be built up on an existing Kei platform from Suzuki. If the new car were to keep the RWD layout of the original, however, that would mean building up the model on the live-rear-axle bones of the Suzuki Jimny or Carry.
We haven't heard much about Suzuki since it decided to leave the US market in 2012, but things are going well for the little automaker these days with the recent announcement of record annual profits. It would seem that investors should be ecstatic, but they are starting to question the man at the helm. Company president and chairman Osamu Suzuki is now 84 years old and is guaranteed at least one more year as the leader, but shareholders want to know who is taking his place when the inevitable happens.
We're not being ageist, here. As long as the Suzuki can run the company to the satisfaction of investors, he absolutely deserves the top spot. According to Bloomberg, the issue making shareholders so edgy is that the business doesn't have a transition plan in place. The president obviously isn't a young man, and folks are worried that if something happens suddenly, there could be chaos deciding a successor and a free-falling stock price.
Suzuki's tenure at the company is somewhat astounding. He married the granddaughter of the founder and took her name because the family had no male heirs. In world where many people hope to retire as soon as possible, he's worked for the same automaker for the last 50 years, including stints as company president from 1978 to 2000 and 2008 to the present. Investors aren't questioning the president's ability as a business leader; they just want a clearer understanding of the automaker's future direction.