Behind the decline
Among the reasons for Suzuki's collapse after 2007:
• The credit crunch of 2008 blew up the subprime market, the heart of Suzuki's business.
• Poor vehicle quality squelched return business.
• Dubious practices by some stores, such as "no payments for life" promotions, akin to real estate balloon mortgages, led to lawsuits and bad publicity. A suit by a former high-volume dealer alleged that Suzuki pressured him to file phony sales reports to keep a bonus merry-go-round turning.
• In a rush to add dealers, Suzuki added some used-car sellers who wanted the cachet of a new-car franchise to boost used-car sales but didn't work to build the Suzuki brand.
Suzuki slashed costs to cope with the sales decline. The brand skipped major U.S. auto shows, including the most recent Los Angeles and Detroit venues. Executives responsible for marketing, public relations, product planning and other functions have either left or were let go this year, without being replaced.