Want Free Gas? Buy a Suzuki

Automaker to Give Carbuyers a Debit Card to Use at the Pump

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DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- Talk about auto incentives: American Suzuki Motor Corp. is giving buyers free gasoline for the summer.
The offer began running on Suzuki's website on May 1.
The offer began running on Suzuki's website on May 1.

Suzuki will give consumers who buy a new 2008 or 2009 Suzuki through June 30 a Visa debit card for free gas. Depending on model, the amounts range from $320 to $470.

"Suzuki recognizes the economic impact resulting from soaring gas prices and thought this promotion was a great way to entice eager car buyers," said Gary Akin, VP-sales of Suzuki's auto arm.

The catch
Of course, there's a catch. Buyers must qualify to finance their new vehicles through the company's American Suzuki Financial Services, and, if so, they'll get zero-percent interest for up to 60 months.

Wes Brown, VP of consultant Iceology, predicted the promotion will attract the public's attention. "Any [auto] marketing that focuses on miles-per-gallon or free gas is going to make people sit up in their chairs," he said.

Suzuki should be able to manage demand generated by the promotion because not everyone will qualify. The offer should generate more showroom traffic for Suzuki, which can still sell new vehicles to consumers who don't qualify, Mr. Brown said.

Suzuki introduced the offer May 1 on its website. Ads from Dentsu Next, Brea, Calif., will break in the next few days.

Suzuki reported this week that its U.S. new-vehicle sales for April jumped 5% to 9,669 units, but for the first four months of the year its sales are off by 2% to 36,099 units.
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