LOS ANGELES -- American Suzuki halted its free fall last month by posting a 17 percent sales gain, its first monthly increase in more than two years.
Suzuki sold 2,043 vehicles in October, compared with 1,748 in October 2009. The last time Suzuki recorded a monthly sales increase was in August 2008. Suzuki had four monthly sales advances of 5 percent or less that year, when gasoline prices soared and smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles gained popularity.
Chris Coons, Suzuki's senior manager of sales planning, attributed October's gain to new incentives launched last month to clear out 2010 models and recently completed sales training to get dealers to focus on selling the Suzuki Kizashi mid-sized sedan.
Coons also said a small group of new dealerships that have opened in recent months accounted for 10 to 20 percent of the brand's October volume.
Coons acknowledged that sales essentially have bottomed out, holding steady at 2,400 to 2,500 vehicles per month for over a year. Suzuki sold more than 100,000 vehicles in 2006 and 2007, but sales have crashed ever since.
The automaker's full-year sales fell 54 percent from 2008 to 2009. Suzuki has sold 19,015 vehicles in the first 10 months of 2010, down 46 percent from 35,263 in the year-ago period.
With Suzuki finding the bottom, Coons said, more gains should follow.
Said Coons: “I think that we're primed to continue to see increases.”