Suzuki Motors recently announced its profits for the first half of 2018. And the numbers are impressive. The company has surpassed BMW as the most profitable car company in the world, an impressive feat for a company that operates chiefly in some of the toughest automotive markets in the world.
However, many analysts have pointed out that Suzuki’s new title as the most profitable automaker on the planet has more to do with the declining profitability of its German counterpart than anything new or brilliant that the company itself has done. BMW has been recently beset by some serious blows to its bottom line, including the Dieselgate scandal, in which it was determined that massive fraud had been perpetrated by the company’s subsidiary, Volkswagen, to pass strict emission standards throughout many of its markets.
To many Americans, the notion that Suzuki is now one of the leading car manufacturers throughout the world may come as a surprise. While many Americans who are old enough to remember some of the company’s mid-90s smash hits like the Sidekick may be familiar with the brand, those under the age of 30 have probably had little interaction with the company’s products. That’s because Suzuki dramatically scaled back its U.S. exports throughout the 2000s and then completely stopped selling to the American market in 2012.
The company’s withdrawal was the result of being forced into bankruptcy. In 2012, American Suzuki, the company’s U.S. subsidiary, sold just 21,000 vehicles. This reflects the highly competitive U.S. auto market, which has been notorious for government protectionism favoring U.S. automakers.
But even though the company has been self-excluded from the most lucrative automotive market in the world, it has come to dominate auto sales in other important markets across the globe. Most notably, the company sells more than 20 million units each year in Japan and sells more than 10 million per year in India. Suzuki has benefitted from highly efficient manufacturing processes and a large number of contract manufacturing deals that it has struck with other automotive companies.
With this news, some U.S.-facing pundits have expressed their desire to have the lauded automotive manufacturer return stateside. Many of the company’s current vehicles are both highly rated and very affordable.