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Sport bike leader unveils a new GSX-R – October 16, 2006

October 16, 2006
Filed under Features

LAS VEGAS — It was referred to as the first wave.
American Suzuki Motor Corp.’s annual dealer meeting and new product show in Las Vegas featured three new units, an increased emphasis on dealer profitability and an impressive list of sales achievements. But it also came with a caveat: it was only the beginning for 2007.
ASMC’s Mel Harris, vice president of motorcycle operations, assured dealers that a second wave of 2007 product was in the pipeline. During a glitzy opening night, complete with a laser light show and showgirls, Harris also revealed a number of Suzuki sales accomplishments, including:

  • record unit sales for 2005 and the company’s goal of 240,000 unit sales in the United States for this year would be more than a 300 percent increase from 10 years ago;
  • 8 percent sales growth compared to the industry’s 3 percent average in 2005, and company officials expect similar sales growth this year;
  • continued dominance in the sizzling sport bike market with a leading 38.4 percent of the market, as well as two of the three hottest selling sport bikes;
  • the lone Japanese OEM whose ATV sales are up over last year.
    All of those gains have not come without some growing pains, however. Harris promised dealers last year that Suzuki would unveil eight new products this year. But Suzuki fell well short of that because increased demand, especially for sport bikes, slowed production for other units.
    But Harris did reveal what those 2008 new units would be:

  • B-King: This naked model was first shown as a concept bike at a 2001 show in Toyko. Few details were released on the bike, other than that dealer ordering would begin in June.
  • M109r: Suzuki will provide a limited-edition version of its flagship cruiser in a blue-and-white paint scheme. The company’s cruiser sales are up 24 percent this year compared to 2005.
  • C109 – A full-production classic cruiser.
  • Hiyabusa 1300: Harris told the crowd of dealers that the new Hiyabusa “will be back faster and quicker than ever before” and he guaranteed it would be the fasted production motorcycle on the market.
    Harris also told Powersports Business that Suzuki is working on adding a 125 to its Burgman line. He also hinted during a press conference that Suzuki is working on improving its enduro lineup.
    What Harris and other company officials were able to show off in Las Vegas were a new KingQuad 450 (see more on the new ATV on page 23), a 2007 Bandit 1250 and a 2007 GSX-R 1000, which will allow riders to change their engine performance with the touch of a button on the right handlebar. The engine mapping feature, which has three settings, is instantaneous, meaning a rider can select one map for one part of a racetrack and another for a different part of the track.
    The new GSX-R 1000, the ’06 version was the nation’s No. 3 sports bike seller according to Suzuki, also features a more powerful, liquid cooling 999cc engine; new, more compact fuel injectors; a higher capacity exhaust system and a new aluminum frame. MSRP is $11,399.
    The 1250 Bandit will come in two models, with optional antilock braking system. It also features a new liquid-cooled, fuel-injected engine. The engine has a centralized cam chain and four valves per cylinder. A new six-speed transmission, according to Suzuki, improves acceleration. MSRP is $8,299 for the 1250 and the $8,799 for ABS model.
    Besides showing off the new product, Suzuki also made an effort to provide dealers with more profit opportunities. The company unveiled the Suzuki Select Certified Program, a preowned program that is unique for Japanese powersports OEMs. The program, which is popular in the auto industry, removes some of the risk of buying preowned vehicles by providing a 90-day warranty and a 90-day roadside assistance program. In order to qualify, on-road motorcycles and scooters must meet a number of requirements and pass a 77-point test. Suzuki also announced it will help dealers try to get more profit out of the service department. The OEM will put on a series of service seminars in 2007 for dealer principals and service managers. The dates and locations of those seminars have yet to be announced.
    “Really this weekend we’re focusing on dealers so they have the tools and services to be profitable,” said Glenn Hansen, Suzuki’s communications manager. “They’re our first customer.”
    Dealers also saw Suzuki’s upcoming TV advertising plans, which will take on a reality series approach. A series of off-road commercials will focus on three friends who ride 260 miles over three days in California’s renowned Death Valley. Another set of commercials for the company’s cruiser line will feature three riders picked from Suzuki dealerships who take a long ride on new Boulevards. psb

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