Suzuki Motor of America revealed plans for a Suzuki Marine Technical Center USA in Panama City, Fla. on an existing 20-acre waterfront site. The Japanese manufacturer is currently working on renovating the property and could not speculate on an official launch date.
“We are planning a state-of-the-art Suzuki Marine Technical Center that will help us to develop, test and refine the best possible Suzuki outboard products for today and tomorrow. Our goal is to improve people’s lives on the water and ensure everyday mobility for as many people as possible,” said Suzuki Motor of America president Max Yamamoto in a statement.
The location — formerly a research facility for Florida State University — was heavily damaged in 2018 by Hurricane Michael. The company collaborated with city, state and federal agencies to first acquire, then plan, the site’s renovation.
The property includes a launch ramp, a sizeable basin that can be utilized to run and test engines as well as a protected harbor. Suzuki is currently replacing docks lost in the hurricane, repairing the seawall and shoring up the basin as well as retrofitting existing structures on the property.
“Suzuki will be an excellent addition to the business community in Panama City,” said Panama City Mayor Greg Brudnicki. “As our community recovers and improves after Hurricane Michael, we are delighted to welcome global companies like Suzuki into our community.”
The engine manufacturer expects to ramp up the head count at the facility as the operation grows and to collaborate with stateside boat builders in order to refine its line of outboards from 2.5 up to 350 hp. They have also said the property would be used for new product launches and training.
“We are proud to have Suzuki Motor of America developing this new facility in Panama City – and not only from a business perspective,” said Ben Lee, Bay Economic Development Alliance Chairman. “We already knew Suzuki as a respected, worldwide brand, but as we worked with them in selecting a site, we learned that Suzuki is also a company with a deep respect for the marine and coastal environment.”
Suzuki’s president feels it is critical to move forward with the project in regards to the current challenges the industry is facing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This comes at a time when the boating industry is facing unparalleled challenges due to the coronavirus outbreak,” said Yamamoto. “We are confident that our world and our industry will get through this crisis, which is why we are moving forward with this plan for the future.”