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The Verona, an Italian-designed, Korean-built, Japanese car hopes to boost Suzuki’s presence in North America.

The newly launched Verona is an important vehicle for Suzuki. Not only is it the first car produced from the $100 million investment in GM Daewoo Auto & Technology (GMDAT) but it marks the first of nine new vehicles Suzuki will launch over the next five years.

Suzuki has adopted what it calls the “3-5-7” plan which means it wants to triple its sales over the next 5 years through ’07. Projected sales for the company this year are in the neighborhood of 80,000 vehicles, with hopes of breaking 100,000 next year and then 200,000 in 2007. The Verona’s sales performance is crucial.

How does Suzuki intend to help break into the American market? To start they have announced that they will be putting $100 million into advertising to expand public knowledge of new products, $40 million of which has been allocated to the launches of Verona and the forthcoming Forenza.

The ad campaign will feature the entire line of cars, and in almost every instance has the products driving past a sign reminding wouldbe consumers about their 100,000 mile or 7 year warranty. The campaign will be launched through spot TV, cable, consumer print and internet ads. Suzuki’s 2004 advertising strategy is based on promoting safety, dependability and value.

Taking a note from Hyundai’s recent successes in sales, suzuki is making the warranty a selling point. The Suzuki warranties are also going to be fully transferable upon resale of the vehicle.

A 6- cylinder engine was chosen to give Verona a competitive advantage over 4-cylinder-powered Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. The transverse-mounted design creates more room in the well-appointed interior.
The Verona is a fusion of several different components. It’s a Korean-built Japanese car with Italian styling, designed in Italy by Italdesign, for sale in America. This multicultural background isn’t the only point of interest on this vehicle though it also features the market’s first transversely mounted inline-6.
The powerplant is an aluminum block 2.5L inline-6 with DOHC and 24 valves. The bore and stroke is 3.03 in. x 3.51 in. with a compression ratio of 10.2 to 1. The engine produces 177 lb/ft of torque at 4,000 rpm and makes 155 hp at 5,800 rpm. That engine power is then transferred to the wheels by means of a 4-speed automatic transmission with overdrive and a lock-up torque converter.

In an effort to maximize the engine’s efficiency, Suzuki outfitted the Verona with a variable induction system, optimized the exhaust system and more to generate ample power from the engine. The variable intake system benefits NVH, size, driving torque and reliability. According to the company, the engine has done more than 3.7 million miles on a dynamometer and 1.8 million miles in actual vehicle testing.

The transverse mounting of the engine was a spatial decision. It gives the vehicle wider stance for stability and allowed for greater amounts of room inside the cabin. And in an effort to keep the cabin quiet, Suzuki isolated the cam cover with rubber material in an effort to minimize vibration and noise

An adaptive automatic transmission which automatically shifts between Economy, Medium and Sport modes is standard and features an electronically-controlled 4-speed automatic transmission with step-gate shifter. Verona features MacPherson struts on the front suspension, a multi-link rear suspension and gas-pressure shock absorbers.

Verona also has speed-sensitive steering. It also comes with standard ABS that features the Electronic Brake Force Distribution braking system designed to provide fade-free stopping power. The body itself has been designed for impact absorption and suppression of cabin deformation. More than 30 percent of the body is made of high-strength steel.

The body structure was subjected to more than 150 crash tests and correlative computer evaluations. In addition to the body structure, Verona safety features include dual front SRS airbags, front seatbelts with pretensioners and force limiters.

There will be three trim levels: The S model at an MSRP of just $16, 499, the LX at an MSRP of just $17,799 and the top of the line EX comes with an MSRP of just $19,499. The powertrain is the same throughout the three models.

Suzuki sees it’s Verona competing head-tohead with the 4-cylinder Toyota Camry and Honda Accord as well as the Hyundai Sonata. The Verona has been priced to be $3,300 cheaper than Camry. Target buyers are a middle- class families with kids. Suzuki is also likely to remind would-be consumers that Verona offers more legroom than the 2003 Accord and more shoulder room than the 2003 Camry, however the price and warranty are still going to serve as the main hook for most consumers.

Nine new models in five years is unprecedented for Suzuki’s history in the U.S. Right now they only compete in niche markets representing 20 percent of the total automotive marketplace. Suzuki will launch nine new vehicles over the next five years with the Verona and Forenza this year. Next year they will add two additional new passenger cars to the line, a 5-door crossover and a wagon.

Under the hood of the Italian design sculpted Verona lies a transversely mounted 155 hp in-line V-6.
In 2005, a new small SUV with a 2.7L V-6 engine will be released and in 2006, a new midsize SUV, with 3.5L V-6 engine and an all new sport cross-over vehicle with a high performance engine. Finally in 2007, a new sport sedan and a new sport wagon will be launched. If Suzuki follows through on these plans, it figures to be represented in 50 percent of the total U.S. auto market.

Ultimately the market penetration will come down to Suzuki’s dealership network. In order to sell the amount of cars it has set out to Suzuki needs to drastically increase its number of dealerships. The goal in dealer expansion for the year is 100 new dealers. Suzuki needs to get to 600 dealerships total by 2007.

600 dealerships is the magic number for Suzuki due to the following proposed sales goals. If Suzuki can get 600 dealerships and then have each dealership sell 30 vehicles a month (360) a year the total sales from all the dealerships will actually exceed its goal of 200,000 with a total of 216,000 sales.

Not only does Suzuki have goals to increase visibility through their $100 million advertising budget but it has a new aesthetic signature it is outfitting the dealerships with, know as the Suzuki squares. Existing dealers in southern states have already begun such overhauls.

Verona and the forthcoming Forenza will be very telltale signs of whether or not Suzuki’s sales goals for the middle part of this decade are possible. The consumer response to the vehicles will be known soon enough. Economically priced vehicles with great warranties can sell in this country, just ask Hyundai.

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Mon. July 15th, 2024

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