LOS ANGELES -- Suzuki's Grand Vitara SUV is hitting the slopes.
American Suzuki Motor Corp. is sponsoring amateur ski and snowboarding competitions at five U.S. resorts through April 15. The outdoors crowd is a prime target for the Grand Vitara.
Suzuki plans several such sponsorships for the redesigned 2006 Grand Vitara. The SUV is bigger and more powerful than its predecessor. It has sold well since its introduction last September.
The company is spending an estimated $500,000 to $600,000 on the Suzuki Halfpipe Jams. The events enable skiers and snowboarders to perform tricks in the snow, similar to skateboarders' escapades.
About 100 to 125 people compete at each event for cash and other prizes worth about $10,000. Spectators can listen to live music and take part in ski and snowboard demonstrations.
In addition to the production Grand Vitara, Suzuki is touting the Blizzard concept SUV at the events. Suzuki designed the Blizzard, one of three Grand Vitara concepts, for snow enthusiasts.
The Blizzard has a 2.7-liter turbocharged V-6 engine and a full-time, four-mode, four-wheel-drive system. The interior features chairlift-style seating in the rear, Internet access, and glove and boot warmers. A custom roof rack can hold snowboards.
"We want to get feedback from consumers" about the concepts, says Tom Carney, American Suzuki's sales and marketing director. Some of the concepts could come to market, Carney told Automotive News.
The Halfpipe Jams competitions are scheduled for Copper Mountain, Colo.; Killington, Vt.; Bethel, Maine; Snowbird, Utah; and Squaw Valley, Calif. Suzuki is sponsoring the events in cooperation with Skiing magazine.
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