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Suzuki dealers can buy used fleet vehicles online

A new program from American Suzuki Motor Corp. allows its dealers to buy factory-owned used vehicles before they appear at traditional auctions.

Tim Finley, Suzuki's used-vehicle and fleet sales manager, says the Suzuki Direct program makes retired rental and corporate vehicles available on the Internet, exclusively to Suzuki dealers.

Suzuki holds major sales at just 10 auction sites. The company expects to remarket about 10,000 used vehicles this year, Finley says. From January through September 2005, the industry sold more than 1.2 million certified used vehicles.

These factors have limited the growth of Suzuki's certified used-vehicle program, Finley told Automotive News. The new system, he adds, gives dealers quick and easy access to late-model used Suzuki vehicles around the country.

"Before, they would have access to vehicles (only) in their own geographical area or have to fly across the country," to find company-owned used vehicles, Finley says.

Suzuki Direct will be open to all Suzuki dealerships. The company is rolling it out first to the 31 dealerships that have committed to selling Suzuki certified-used vehicles, Finley says.

Suzuki sold 29 certified used vehicles in September and 300 from January through September 2005, Finley says. "We're trying to build customer loyalty and brand equity" with Suzuki Direct, he says.

By last Friday, Oct. 28, about 500 vehicles were to have been posted on the Suzuki Web site, Finley says.

Jerry Goldstein, a Suzuki dealer in Altoona, Pa., says the program will help Suzuki dealers keep vehicles from independent used-car dealers.

"Suzuki has a sale in Orlando, and I can't get to Orlando -- but there are some cars I'd like to buy," he says.

The online program will help Suzuki sell its used vehicles quickly, Finley says. It routinely takes the company two to three weeks to sell a vehicle at a traditional auction, he says.

Suzuki Direct vehicles have about 10,000 to 15,000 miles. They undergo light reconditioning.

Suzuki will remove vehicles from the site that do not sell within 72 hours of their scheduled presentation at auction, Finley says.

Suzuki Direct sells retired rental vehicles at fixed prices. It conducts live online auctions for company-owned vehicles. The latter include new vehicles with minor cosmetic damage.

The new program replaces Suzuki Proline, an Internet remarketing site the company created four years ago. Finley says Suzuki closed the Proline site about six months ago.

You may e-mail Arlena Sawyers at

You can reach Arlena Sawyers at asawyers@crain.com

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