Suzuki's US pull-out has no implications for JA

BY BRIAN BONITTO Associate Editor Auto and Entertainment

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

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HEADS of Jamaica's new- and used-car groups say the local auto sector will not be affected by American Suzuki Motor Corp filing for bankruptcy on Monday.

Lynvalle Hamilton, Jamaica Used Car Dealers Association president, says American Suzuki Motor Corp's woes would not cause a serious dent to local operations.

"We do import American, left-hand-drive vehicles from time to time but these are mainly Toyota, Honda, the higher-end vehicles and pickups. You won't find persons importing a lot of Suzuki vehicles, so it wouldn't have any effect on us," he says.

On Monday American Suzuki Motor Corp threw in the towel and ceased selling automobiles in the United States after filing for bankruptcy.

The company cited slow sales, unfavourable foreign-exchange rates and hight costs due to the US regalatory requirements as its reasons for exiting the business.

Hamilton's contention, though, is his organisation's inability to source US dollars to do business.

"Some of our overseas suppliers are losing confidence in doing business with us because of the situation here," he says.

He said if this situation persists, several used-car dealers may pull down their shutters for good.

"With the US dollar rates climbing as it is now, that will lead to higher prices for the units and this can ultimately lead to dealers going out of business if there is no intervention from the government," he adds.

Ken LaCroix, chairman of new-car umbrella group Automobile Dealers Association, says American Suzuki Motor Corp's operation is not connected to Jamaica or any other entity in the Caribbean or Canada.

"The United States Suzuki has nothing to do with Suzuki operations here in Jamaica. That's just an issue for the United States. It has no implications on any other territory that sells or exports Suzuki," says LaCroix.

He was quick to point out that sales projections for new cars were ahead of last year's figures.

"Last year, we sold over just over 4,000 vehicles and we should be close to 5,000 this year," he said.

He attributes the sales spike to new-car dealers off-loading their vehicles to the public at heavily slashed prices.

"The uptick in sales is a result of dealers who have extra stock that are discounting them to get rid of them," he says.




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