LOS ANGELES - American Suzuki Motor Corp. has started a test program for selling certified used vehicles.
Tom Carney, director of marketing for the company, says certified vehicles will get a 12,000-mile warranty and a 144-point inspection. Other details are not complete.
The company will have regional dealer meetings this month to get dealer input before the program is introduced this year.
Two dealerships are enrolled in the test: Five Star Suzuki in Altoona, Pa., and Puyallup Suzuki in Puyallup, Wash.
Carney says the company expects to have 90 dealers enrolled by March and 400 certified-used sales in 2005.
Suzuki is adding the certified-used program because it will introduce several vehicles in the next few years and hopes to reach annual sales of 200,000 by 2007. That means more used Suzuki vehicles will be in the market.
Certified programs can increase demand for used vehicles, raising resale values and customer satisfaction.
Although the company will not reach its goal of 100,000 sales in 2004, sales were up 25.9 percent to 57,329 units in the first nine months of the year.
"We won't get the 100,000 sales" (in 2004), Carney says. "But we are trending very nicely to get to the 200,000. We need to be in more metro markets. That's where we're softest."
Since September 2003, Suzuki has introduced four vehicles: the Verona mid-sized sedan, the Forenza compact sedan and wagon, and the Reno five-door compact car. The Reno goes on sale this month. The company will add a compact SUV in 2005 and a mid-sized SUV in 2006. Three more models will debut in 2007.
The company has 527 dealerships, up from 440 in 2003. It plans to have 600 dealerships by the end of next year.
Kathy Jackson can be reached at