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American Suzuki files for bankruptcy protection

American Suzuki Motor Corp., beset by low sales, cutthroat competition and unfavorable foreign exchange rates, is pulling out of the U.S. auto market and has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

"The most important thing for you to know is that we intend to continue to operate our motorcycles, ATV and marine businesses as usual," Suzuki Motor Corp. chairman Takashi Iwatsuki said in a statement sent to customers Monday.

"We firmly believe the actions we are taking will allow us to continue to deliver the exciting and innovative motorcycle, ATV and marine products that have made Suzuki one of the most famous and reliable names in the industry. And. of course, all warranties will continue to be honored, just as they have for the past four decades. Further, parts and service will continue uninterrupted.”

American Suzuki said poor U.S. auto sales, high costs, regulatory requirements and unfavorable foreign exchange rates contributed to the decision to wind down its automotive business.

"While the decision to discontinue new automobile sales in the U.S. was difficult to make, today's actions were inevitable under these circumstances," the company said in the statement.

Suzuki has about 246 U.S. dealers.

The company "intends to work within its current U.S. automotive dealer network to help structure a smooth transition from new automobile sales to exclusively parts and service operations, or, in some instances, an orderly wind down of dealership operations," the statement said.

Suzuki's U.S. sales through October totaled 21,188 vehicles, down 5 percent for the same period last year. The entire U.S. market has risen 14 percent through October.

Suzuki says it plans to sell its remaining inventory through its dealers.

Scott Pitman, whose Suzuki of Wichita (Kan.) store is Suzuki’s largest U.S. dealership, said he was “in a state of shock” after learning that the brand planned to exit the United States.

“We love the brand and we’ve been big, faithful supporters, and we’re sad right now,”

Pitman, a Suzuki dealer since 2007, told AutoNews.com.

Click here for the full report.

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