HENDERSON, Nev. - With new products coming at faster intervals, American Suzuki Motor Corp. aims to increase its dealer body by 25 percent.
Gary Anderson, American Suzuki vice president for automotive sales, said the company's goal is to increase its network to 500 dealers in two years, up from 400 it expects to have by year end.
Anderson spoke at a press event here for the automaker's new seven-passenger 2001 XL-7 sport-utility.
'We are fairly well dealered throughout the country, but there are certain areas where we are not - some of the Midwest areas, the Dakotas, some of the midsized and smaller markets in Minnesota that we have not entered yet,' he said.
In addition, 'we expect to add quite a few more dealerships in California. We're underdealered there,' he said.
American Suzuki is on track to sell 65,000 vehicles this year, up from 49,888 in 1999. Sales through October totaled 52,836 vehicles, with sport-utilities representing 66.3 percent of the total.
The Grand Vitara is Suzuki's best-selling vehicle here.
Next year, with the addition of the XL-7, Suzuki expects sales to hit 81,500 units. That would put it half way toward its long-term goal of attaining 1 percent of the U.S. market, or about 170,000 sales.
'To reach that goal we will be introducing a consistent stream of new products designed to appeal to American tastes and lifestyles,' said Rick Suzuki, president of American Suzuki. He said a new vehicle, which he would not identify, would be introduced in April at the New York auto show.
Although the emphasis for the near term will be on sport-utilities, Anderson said the company is not going to change its strategy with cars. The company has two passenger cars, the 1.3-liter Swift and the 1.6- and 1.8-liter Esteem, in its U.S. lineup.
'The car market in this country is still very large, and cars represent about 50 percent of Suzuki's worldwide sales,' Anderson said.
'We're not just a truck company or an SUV company. We will continue to market and build our sales volume in cars.'