News Suzuki to Exit US Auto Market; Focus on Motorcycles

Suzuki to Exit US Auto Market; Focus on Motorcycles

American Suzuki Bankruptcy Report

After 27 years of attempting to gain a stronghold on the US auto market, Suzuki Motor Corp will exit the US car market due unprofitable sales.

Suzuki reported Tuesday that it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in federal court in California, and will restructure its US market to focus on the motorcycle, ATV and boat industries.

For the first 10 months of 2012, American Suzuki Motor Corp (ASMC), which filed for bankruptcy with $346 million in debt, was the second worst-selling car brand in the US behind Smart (electric/mini cars). Suzuki says the bankruptcy would allow it to exit all contractual responsibilities to the more than 200 US dealers, just as the General Motors and Chrysler bankruptcies allowed in 2009.

American Suzuki plans to buy its motorcycle and powersports operations out of bankruptcy, and shift the organization of its auto operations towards maintaining and fixing the Suzuki automobiles currently on the road.

Following are notes from the official bankruptcy filing:

1. The reason for ASMC’s winding down of its automobile marketing business and concentration on its motorcycle, ATV and marine products businesses

When considering its long-term business plan, ASMC recognized that it will be unable to maintain profitability with respect to its automobile marketing business, taking into account various factors such as economic conditions including the currency exchange rate, market trends, the models of Suzuki automobiles sold in the U.S. which are primarily small cars, ASMC’s projected sales volume and the stringent U.S. environmental and safety regulations. However, ASMC also recognized a possibility that its motorcycle, ATV, marine products businesses could remain profitable and experience increases in sales. Thus, ASMC decided to wind down its unprofitable automobile marketing business and redirect all of its operating resources to its motorcycle, ATV and marine products businesses, to expand these businesses and improve profitability efficiently in all sectors where the prospects for profit are good.

2. The reason for ASMC’s filing for Chapter 11 reorganization

As a way to reorganize the company, wind down its automobile marketing business and concentrate on its motorcycle, ATV and marine products businesses, ASMC has determined to file the Chapter 11. This decision is intended to achieve the following:

(1) to facilitate a smooth transition of the current U.S. automobile dealer sales network into a network of authorized service and parts dealers to allow the company to fully honor all warranties and make service and parts available to customers nationwide as in the past after winding down its automobile marketing business;

(2) to facilitate a mutually beneficial solutions in connection with compensation to be paid to automobile dealers by ASMC in accordance with the stipulated terms and conditions, as they restructure their operations and, for most of the dealers, as they convert to exclusively service and parts operations;

(3) to effectively manage any possible costly and time-consuming legal disputes; and

(4) to realign ASMC as soon as possible in an orderly and fair manner to focus on maintaining and enhancing its motorcycles, ATV and marine businesses

3. Aggregate amount of debt

346 million U.S. dollars (as of September, 30, 2012) 173 million U.S. dollars of which are owed to Suzuki group companies, including SMC

4. SMC’s investment in ASMC and SMC’s claims against ASMC

The amount of the SMC’s investment in ASMC and SMC’s claims against ASMC as of October 31, 2012 are as follows:

(i) SMC’s investment in ASMC
B/S amount of the investment 0 million yen
Entire amount of the SMC’s investment in ASMC of 12,800 million yen (64.7 million dollar) has already been impaired.

(ii) SMC’s claim against ASMC
Trade receivables 10,700 million yen (134 million U.S. dollar)
Loans 2,500 million yen (32 million U.S. dollar)
SMC posted allowance for doubtful accounts of 9,700 million yen on its claims against ASMC as of September 30, 2012

5. Outlook for the future

ASMC plans to commence a reorganization proceeding under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in the evening of November 5, 2012 (local time).

SMC has an intention to support ASMC in its restructuring to ensure that ASMC can wind down its automobile marketing business smoothly and ASMC can ensure the continued expansion of sales of Suzuki brand motorcycles, ATV and marine products in the United States.

As to the influence on financial performance of SMC, we will closely monitor the progress of ASMC’s reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code from now, and disclose promptly once a matter for which disclosure is required has occurred.

Ron Lieback
Ron Lieback
One of the few moto journalists based on the East Coast, Ron Lieback joined the motorcycle industry as a freelancer in 2007, and is currently Online Editor at Ultimate Motorcycling.

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