Suzuki names new U.S. head of auto sales, marketing
American Suzuki Motor Corp. has promoted its dealer development boss to lead the brand's struggling automotive sales and marketing operations.
Chris White has been named director of automotive sales for American Suzuki. He had been American Suzuki's senior manager of dealer development.
White will now be the top U.S. sales executive as Suzuki tries to rebuild after a slump during which sales fell from more than 100,000 units in 2007 to just 23,994 in 2010. In the first half of 2011, American Suzuki sold 13,402 new vehicles, a 16 percent gain from the same period last year.
White replaces Koichi Suzuki, executive vice president of American Suzuki, who will return to Japan to work in Suzuki Motor Corp.'s corporate planning and marketing department, according to Suzuki spokesman Jeff Holland.
White will report to Seiichi Maruyama, who was named president of American Suzuki in April and oversees the company's automotive, motorcycle and power equipment businesses.
Koichi Suzuki is returning to Japan for the second time since he was tapped as American Suzuki's first automotive president in 2004. Koichi Suzuki, who is not part of the family that founded the company, held that position until returning to Suzuki Motor Corp. in Japan in May 2007. He came back to the United States as American Suzuki's executive vice president in 2009.
During Koichi Suzuki's leadership, the automaker's U.S. sales rose to record highs of more than 100,000 units in 2006 and 2007.
But the collapse of subprime financing during the 2008 financial meltdown proved disastrous for Suzuki. Subprime financing accounted for the bulk of its highest-volume dealers' sales at the time.
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