Suzuki extends powertain warranty, cheap financing


DETROIT, July 31 (Reuters) - Suzuki Motor Corp. on Wednesday said it will lengthen its powertrain warranty on its cars and trucks sold in the United States to seven years or 100,000 miles, becoming the latest automaker to offer more sales incentives in the hotly competitive U.S. market.

Japan's Suzuki, striving to boost its U.S. sales past 100,000 vehicles in a few years from nearly 65,000 cars and trucks in 2001, also said it would extend its offer of zero downpayment and zero percent financing for a term of up to five years on the purchase of leased or new vehicles.

The extended powertrain warranty, covering the engine, transmission and other parts, is part of Suzuki's "Open Road Promise," which includes 24-hour emergency roadside assistance and the use of a rental vehicle when an owner's vehicle is being repaired.

"I think what's very unique about (the program) is the combination of things here. When you combine them together from one manufacturer, it certainly differentiates Suzuki," Alan Bethke, Suzuki automotive business account manager, told Reuters in an interview.

Suzuki's fellow Asian automakers Hyundai Motor Co. Ltd. , Kia Motors Corp. and Isuzu Motors Ltd. led the charge in recent years in offering extended powertrain warranties in the United States.

For Hyundai and Kia, the longer warranties have helped boost sales and reassure customers even though they both trail most competitors in benchmark industry studies on vehicle quality and durability.

Earlier this month, DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler unit joined the growing crowd, making permanent its seven-year/70,000 mile powertrain warranty.

Bethke said the Suzuki warranty tops competitors because the Chrysler warranty includes a $100 deductible, and the Isuzu, Kia and Hyundai warranties can not be transferred to new owners if the vehicle is sold.

Automakers have ratcheted up sales incentives this year as U.S. sales have slipped from record levels. Suzuki's sales this year have dropped about 3 percent, mirroring an industry-wide drop in the U.S. market.



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