CONTACTS FOR CONSUMERS UNION:
Linda Wagner, 914-378-2433
Jim Haggerty, 212-683-8100, x224, 917-453-1510
(YONKERS, NY) – July 8, 2004 – Consumers Union of the U.S., Inc., (“CU”) and the Suzuki Motor Corporation are pleased to announce that the product disparagement lawsuit regarding the Suzuki Samurai sport-utility vehicle, filed by Suzuki against CU in 1996 in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, has been settled and will be dismissed.
In the process of settlement discussions between the parties, the parties have acknowledged their mutual respect for each other in that Suzuki recognizes CU’s stated commitment for objective and unbiased testing and reporting, and CU recognizes Suzuki’s stated commitment for designing, manufacturing, and marketing safe vehicles.
CU and Suzuki disagree with respect to the validity of CU’s short course avoidance maneuver tests of the Samurai in 1988. Suzuki disputes the validity of the protocol and findings of these tests, and CU stands by its test protocol and findings. However, CU and Suzuki agree on the following:
Mutual Respect Acknowledged
• CU recognizes Suzuki’s stated commitment for designing, manufacturing and marketing safe vehicles.
• Suzuki recognizes CU’s stated commitment for objective and unbiased testing and reporting.
In 1988, when CU tested the Samurai, small SUVs as a category were new to the market. The Samurai was among the earliest entrants to this category. The Samurai has not been sold by Suzuki in the United States since 1995. Studies performed by the U.S. government have shown that the Samurai’s real world rollover accident performance was within a range with other utility vehicles.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and others have criticized the CU tests because of driver variation. CU disagrees with NHTSA’s position. NHTSA uses robotic controllers in its rollover testing of SUVs to minimize driver variation.
CU has never questioned the safety of any other Suzuki model it has tested. It has praised the Suzuki Sidekick and recommended the Suzuki Vitara/XL7.
CU’s 1996 statement that the 1988 Samurai “easily rolls over in turns” was limited to the severe turns in CU’s short course avoidance maneuver. CU’s use of the adverb “easily” may have been misconstrued and misunderstood. CU never intended to state or imply that the Samurai easily rolls over in routine driving conditions. Subsequent to 1988, several other SUVs have tipped up either in CU’s tests or in U.S. government tests.
CU and Suzuki agree not to refer to the Samurai testing or rating or their litigation in any advertising, promotional or fundraising materials. CU agrees to remove from CU’s website entitled consumersrighttoknow.org those portions that refer to their litigation and Suzuki. Suzuki agrees to remove its website entitled suzukivcu.com.
CU and Suzuki may refer to its prior publications concerning the Samurai rating or testing provided they also furnish the recipient with a copy of the Joint Public Statement or a reference to a webpage containing the Joint Public Statement.
No Demand For Monetary Compensation
The subject lawsuit has been dismissed, and Suzuki has not demanded or received monetary compensation.
Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports®, is an expert, independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect themselves. To achieve this mission, we test, inform, and protect. To maintain our independence and impartiality, CU accepts no outside advertising, no free test samples, and has no agenda other than the interests of consumers. CU supports itself through the sale of our information products and services, individual contributions, and a few noncommercial grants.