You know when a company starts quoting sales figures “in the last nine months of the year…” that the numbers from the first three months that they are not mentioning have to be pretty bad. Such is the case with American Suzuki, though the company’s overall performance continues to flounder in the this economy. In Suzuki’s fiscal nine-month period (April 2011 to December 2011), sales to North American dealers were up 160%, as wholesale unit sales to dealers rose from 13,000 units (mostly ATVs) in 2010 to 34,000 units in 2011.
However despite shipping more models to dealers, Suzuki’s sales in North America were actually down 11.5%, as the Japanese company sold only 31,000 units in the nine-month period, compared to the 35,000 units it sold during the same fiscal period last year. Because of this dip in consumer sales, Suzuki has revised its sales predictions for the end of its fiscal year in North America from 50,000 units to 46,000 units. American Suzuki sold 51,000 units to consumers in 2010, meaning that for the 2011 fiscal year, Suzuki is expecting a 9.8% retail sales decline compared to last year.
Part of the reason for the increased shipments in 2011 to dealers despite the company’s continued tough retails sales is because of the virtual hold on shipments to dealers during the 2010 model year. Letting dealers clear out the backlog of Suzuki stock sitting on their showroom floors, Suzuki also delayed updating many of its models, which is surely accountable for its continued troubling sales progress. While potent machines in their own right, the mildly updated GSX-R600, GSX-R750, & GSX-R1000 are going to have a tough time competing against the newer offerings from the other manufacturers.
While the rest of the motorcycle market appears to be bottoming out and even turning around, American Suzuki’s sales in the fourth quarter continued to plummet. Selling 7,000 units to consumers in Q4, American Suzuki retails sales were down 14% for the final quarter of the company’s fiscal calendar. There is no doubt that the recession hurt the Japanese manufacturers the most, an issue that was only compounded further by last year’s earthquake, nuclear fallout, and regional flooding. Hopefully 2012 has better fortune in store for the Japanese OEMs than 2011 did.