Suzuki recently announced they're quitting the U.S. car and SUV market.
The Japanese manufacturer has also stipulated that they're "realigning [business] to focus on the long-term growth of its Motorcycles/ATV and Marine divisions," and that they'll "continue to have a strong presence as a sponsor of teams in supercross, outdoor motocross and road racing."
But there's a kicker: Suzuki says that "The most important thing for you to know is that we intend to continue to operate our Motorcycles/ATV and Marine businesses as usual."
Like Honda, Suzuki entered the American market by selling motorcycles first, though the global recession eventually put a serious dent in two-wheeled sales of all sorts, resulting in slower product refreshes and the discontinuation of certain models.
My two cents? The "business as usual" phrase is disconcerting at best, and a glaring red flag at worst. Remaining status quo might mean survival, but taking risks through forward-thinking action might be the only way to ensure that Suzuki motorcycles don't go the way of Suzuki cars.
My hope is that Suzuki borrows from the playbooks of its more successful competitors by building two-wheeled offerings which give riders and would-be riders a pulse-quickening reason spend their hard-earned money on the brand. Sure, both varieties of V-Strom are solid dual-purpose tools and effective commuter machines, but how about introducing more potent powerplants like the three-cylinder mills in Triumph's Tiger models? Suzuki could also look at Honda's sweet new NC700X and see how their competitor has breathed new life into the genre through novel features and surprising affordability.
Suzuki builds do-no-wrong GSX-R superbikes in middleweight, three-quarter, and literbike sizes, but why not inject some Ducati-like technology and styling into their track toys? After all, Luddites don't (usually) buy superbikes, at least unless switch traction control and ABS can be disabled. And though the TU250X makes a compelling case for itself with its retro naked bike cues, Suzuki could take a lesson from Kawasaki in the starter bike realm; Team Green's Ninja 300 combines a fun-to-ride sportbike experience with efficiency, performance, and available ABS.
Conducting "Business as usual" may or may not keep a manufacturer open for two-wheeled business, but building bikes that stoke desire should give Suzuki a fighting chance for survival in this cutthroat climate.
- 2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Review: An Analog Superbike in a Digital World
- One (Compelling) Case Against Traction Control
- 2009 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Review
Photo © Andrea Wilson