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 |  Aug 16 2010, 11:09 AM

2010-suzuki-kizashi-06

With sales falling 75 percent since their record-setting year in 2007, Suzuki has taken the drastic measure of buying out 50 of its worst performing stores in the United States.

Since 2007, when Suzuki sold just over 100,000 cars, the brand has gone from 486 franchises to 300. Most dealers are selling just five cars per month, with buyout package dealers selling roughly 2 per month. Dealers were offered one of two packages, a $50,000 buyout plus a buyback of inventory, signage, special tools and other items, or a $20,000 buyout for dealers who did not participate in a Suzuki sponsored showroom upgrade program.

While Suzuki officials say that they launched the program to give unprofitable dealers an exit strategy, and to help strengthen showrooms that are successful, some observers see this as the begging of the end for the struggling Japanese automaker’s foray into the United States.