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American Suzuki Motor to file for bankruptcy protection, Canadian operations untouched

2009 Suzuki Grand Vitara

Suzuki

Suzuki Canada Inc. will continue to sell vehicles in Canada despite the chapter 11 bankruptcy filing of its sister company American Suzuki Motor Corp. and the U.S. unit's decision to stop selling cars in the United States.

"Suzuki Canada, including its automotive division, remains fully open for business in Canada and will be honouring all customer commitments," Bill Porter, Suzuki Canada's senior vice-president of sales and marketing said in a statement late Monday.

The statement followed an announcement by American Suzuki that it will stop selling vehicles in the U.S. market, blaming the high value of the Japanese yen, low sales volumes, a limited vehicle lineup and high costs caused by stringent regulations in the U.S. market.

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It will continue to sell motorcycles and boating products in the United States.

Mr. Porter said in an interview that the auto maker's vehicle lineup is more suited to the Canadian market than the U.S. market. Mid-sized vehicles represent a bigger segment of the U.S. market than the Canadian market, which, because of higher gas prices than the United States, is more skewed to the smaller vehicles Suzuki produces.

"The product mix is very different," Mr. Porter said in a telephone interview. "We'll continue to operate in the usual manner."

He said sales are starting to rebound in Canada, with five straight months of sales of more than 500 vehicles.

Suzuki's sales rose 28 per cent last month in Canada and one per cent in the first 10 months of the year.

That's a recovery from last year, when annual sales fell 38 per cent to 5,625 from 9,128, but it still trails the overall Canadian vehicle market, which rose eight per cent in the first 10 months of 2012.

The Japan-based auto maker has about 60 dealers in Canada.

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At one time, Suzuki manufactured vehicles in Canada at a joint venture with General Motors of Canada Ltd. in Ingersoll, Ont.

That plant, Cami Automotive Inc., is now owned entirely by GM and produces only GM vehicles. Suzuki sold its share in the plant to GM during the 2008-2009 auto crisis that sent GM Canada's parent company into chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

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About the Author
Auto and Steel Industry Reporter

Greg Keenan has covered the automotive and steel industries for The Globe and Mail since 1995. He also writes about broader manufacturing trends. He is a graduate of the University of Toronto and of the University of Western Ontario School of Journalism. More

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