Suzuki Secures leasing plan

Suzuki Canada will roll out a new car-leasing program over the next few months, according to General Manager Gavin Donaldson.The program, entitled Suzuki Secure Lease, will be introduced to Suzuki's 108 dealers during a training tour to be held in May.At...

Suzuki Canada will roll out a new car-leasing program over the next few months, according to General Manager Gavin Donaldson.

The program, entitled Suzuki Secure Lease, will be introduced to Suzuki’s 108 dealers during a training tour to be held in May.

At the training sessions, dealers will meet employees from GE Capital, the finance company that is setting up and will administer the program.

Donaldson says consumer advertising will begin shortly after the training has been completed, probably in June.

Donaldson says the company will initially offer leases on only one of the company’s two product lines, its Sidekick brand of four by fours.

But he says the Swift line of subcompacts will be added within the next month or so.

Suzuki’s decision to begin offering a company-branded leasing program is hardly unexpected.

In fact, the Toronto-based auto marketer is one of the few Canadian auto companies that does not run its own leasing program.

Nonetheless, it marks a significant step for Suzuki, which is a minor player on the Canadian auto scene and lacks the deep pockets and market clout of major companies.

Suzuki’s strategy is to position its lease offering as part of its Suzuki Secure customer loyalty program.

Launched in 1993, Suzuki Secure comprises a roadside assistance program, extended warranty and extended service plan.

Donaldson says he decided to venture into the lease business based on industry projections that auto leases will soon outstrip traditional purchases.

‘Our latest studies show that at least 30% of all cars sold today are under some form of lease program,’ he says, adding that a recent California study indicates leases in the state account for as much as 70% of total purchases.

Donaldson say California auto trends historically hit the Canadian market about two years down the road.

The Suzuki Secure Lease offers lessees three options upon expiry: the customer can walk away with no obligation, buy the car for a predetermined price or trade up to a new model.

Donaldson says leasing is growing in popularity for a number of reasons, including the fact that it eliminates the need for a downpayment and enables people, who could otherwise not afford it, to pick up a new car every couple of years.

Suzuki plans to conduct all of its 1994 paid media advertising through newspaper ads in more than 60 publications.

The ad launch for the lease program is scheduled to begin in mid-May and run for three months.

Creative will be done in-house with the help of freelancers.

Suzuki dropped Harrod & Mirlin as its ad agency last year and is not looking to hire a new one, according to Donaldson.

In other news, Suzuki announced last week it is permitting its dealers to pair with dealers of competing manufacturers.

Although duelling, as it is called, is commonplace in the u.s., Suzuki is the first car maker to allow it Canada.

Donaldson says duelling will enable smaller Suzuki dealers to lower their overhead and improve profits, ultimately creating a stronger dealer network that it eliminates the need for a downpayment and enables people, who could otherwise not afford it, to pick up a new car every couple of years.

Suzuki plans to conduct all of its 1994 paid media advertising through newspaper ads in more than 60 publications.

The ad launch for the lease program is scheduled to begin in mid-May and run for three months.

Creative will be done in-house with the help of freelancers.

Suzuki dropped Harrod & Mirlin as its ad agency last year and is not looking to hire a new one, according to Donaldson.

In other news, Suzuki announced last week it is permitting its dealers to pair with dealers of competing manufacturers.

Although duelling, as it is called, is commonplace in the u.s., Suzuki is the first car maker to allow it Canada.

Donaldson says duelling will enable smaller Suzuki dealers to lower their overhead and improve profits, ultimately creating a stronger dealer network.