Suzuki Shutters US Car Business

Suzuki sold about 26,000 vehicles in the U.S. in 2011.

Suzuki said Tuesday it would shut down its money-losing car business in the United States and file for bankruptcy, citing a strong yen and weak demand for its small cars in the U.S. market.

But American Suzuki Motor Corp. (ASMC), which said it has debts of $346 million, added that it would continue selling motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and marine products -- such as outboard motors -- in the country.

Suzuki sold about 26,000 vehicles in the U.S. in 2011, a fraction of rival Japanese automakers such as Toyota, Nissan and Honda.

ASMC "recognized it will be unable to maintain profitability with respect to its automobile marketing business", the firm said.

The Suzuki division, which employs about 365 people, said it has faced difficulties from the value of the Japanese currency and weak demand for its compacts in the U.S. market.

The yen, which hit record highs against the dollar last year and remains strong, has dented Japanese manufacturers by making their products less competitive overseas while eroding the value of repatriated foreign income.

Suzuki's U.S. unit said it would "redirect" its resources to the sale of motorcycles, ATVs and marine products "where the prospects for profit are good."

Warranties on vehicles already sold in the U.S. market would be honored despite the filing, the company said.

The Japanese firm has focused much of its attention on emerging markets including India where its profitable Maruti Suzuki joint venture is the nation's biggest automaker.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012

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