OEM delivers some now, some later to help dealer inventories.
American Suzuki unveiled 14 new or significantly redesigned motorcycles and ATVs at its June business meeting in Las Vegas. An initial batch of product is destined for showrooms this month for what Suzuki executives call the first of a new two-part selling season.
"We had our dealer meeting earlier in the year than the competition because we wanted to extend the dealers' opportunity to sell the new product," says Mel Harris, vice president. "Weather forecasters are predicting a long, late summer, so we want to take advantage of that, and want to have these units going in to the dealerships in September and October so dealers in the Snowbelt states can be selling the '08 product before the winter sets in and dealers in the Sunbelt states can keep on the gas through to the springtime."
Harris acknowledges that business has been difficult during the past 12 months, but says Suzuki is committed to its dealers by remaining "very tough on inventory."
The current retail climate has presented some challenges for Suzuki dealers, says Harris. Higher fuel prices, poor weather conditions in some areas of the country, and the increasing number of consumers who don't qualify for credit due to their high debts have kept sales slow. "But we're trying to work with our dealers, help them out and keep them going," he says. "And that's why I talk about a second selling season. We want to bring these 2008 units in to give the dealers a shot in the arm. Because right now, they're struggling."
Suzuki motorcycles introduced for 2008 include the long-awaited B-King, the new GSX650F, the Boulevard C109R/RT, the Boulevard M109R2, the DR-Z70 and the fuel-injected RM-Z450, plus the radically updated Hayabusa, DR-Z125/L and RM-Z250.
New ATV models destined for showrooms include a KingQuad 750AXi, KingQuad 400AS/FS, and an updated LT-R450/LT-R450SE.
Dealer reaction so far has been favorable. "Suzuki has been making a lot of promises regarding new product during the past few years, and we've been waiting and waiting, but they took a step in the right direction with some of these new models," says a dealer from Indianapolis who declined to be identified for this article. "There's new stuff for everyone — the off-road guys, the ATV guys, and the street guys. I think we'll be able to capitalize on the GSX650F because of how well we do with the Gixxer line."
New models available in August include the DR-Z70 (MSRP $1,499), M109R2 ($12,699) and LT-R450/SE ($7,399–$7,499). New models scheduled for release in the fall include the B-King ($12,899), Hayabusa ($11,999), GSX650F ($6,999), DR-Z125/L ($2,399–$2,599) and KingQuad 750AXi (price TBA). Finally, new models destined for dealers in the winter include the C109R/RT ($13,799–$14,999) and KingQuad 400AS/FS (price TBA).
No word on when the new RM-Z450 is scheduled for delivery, but expect to see it well before the start of next year's off-road season.
Suzuki Succeeds with Super Sports
Sportbikes are the backbone of Suzuki's U.S. motorcycle sales. The OEM in 2006 sold nearly double the number of liter-class sport bikes than Honda, its closest competitor in the category. (Source: American Suzuki)
Suzuki Launches Owner's Club
Suzuki has launched an owner's club for brand loyalists: Team Suzuki Owner's Club.
"We noticed so many Suzuki-dedicated clubs springing up online, we thought the time would be right to come out with something of our own," says Glenn Hansen, advertising and marketing manager at American Suzuki.
Bob Mueller, sales development manager, says Team Suzuki Owner's Club will assist dealers in three significant ways: 1) increase sales of product and parts, garments and accessories; 2) increase sales of service and maintenance; and 3) increase Suzuki customer loyalty.
'Select' Program Helps Move Pre-owned Units
The Suzuki Select Pre-Owned Motorcycle creates a third line for dealers to sell alongside new and regular pre-owned units.
The program, according to the OEM, makes it easier for dealers to accept late-model trade-ins, allows for potentially higher margins on pre-owned bikes, offers dealers an enhanced image by making a retailer the place to go for hard-to-find pre-owned Suzuki models, and allows for additional SEP sales.
GE flooring is available on Suzuki Select bikes. For dealers searching auctions for pre-owned units, GE also sends direct funding to National Powersports Auctions and Manheim.