American Suzuki Motor Corp. has hired Tom Lynch as vice president of dealer development, a new position.

He will oversee the appointment and growth of Suzuki franchisees and their enrollment into the company's Suzuki Square retail brand-image program. He also will be responsible for Suzuki's overall market representation strategy and new dealer support initiatives.

The company says he will lead a key strategic effort aimed at increasing the breadth, depth and strength of Suzuki car dealers in the U.S. to match an increasing demand for Suzuki cars and SUVs.

This includes efforts to help make existing dealers more profitable and enlist more in the Suzuki Square program, featuring modern facilities and a customer-friendly sales environment.

Of 500 Suzuki dealers in the U.S., 160 participate in the program.

Suzuki auto sales rose 23% last year compared with 2005. The company sold an all-time high of 100,990 vehicles in 2006, the best sales year in its history. Year-to-date sales this year are ahead of 2006.

Lynch, 48, previously has worked for Ford Motor Co. and Nissan North America.