Sales of the Suzuki Samurai plunged 70.6 percent in June from a year earlier, the automaker says in its first sales report since Consumers Union charged that the jeep-like vehicle tips over too easily.
American Suzuki Motor Corp. said it sold 2,199 Samurais in June, down from 7,479 in June 1987.June's sales were the lowest since December 1985, the month after the car's U.S. introduction. Sales had been running at more than 6,000 a month from March through May.
The dramatic decline demonstrated the influence of Consumers Union as well as the impact of television news, which showed clips of the Samurai tipping over onto its outriggers in test runs.
Suzuki said it was not surprised by the decline and expected sales to increase in coming months. A spokesman said, "Suzuki continued to express absolute confidence in the safety of the Samurai."
Asked for comment on the sales figures, Consumers Union spokesman David Berliner said, "If it is a reflection in any way of the public giving credence to our findings, then I think that is a good sign."
Consumers Union, the non-profit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, has said Suzuki should recall the vehicle and give refunds to owners.
Consumers Union said June 2 that the Samurai tends to roll over when the driver swerves back and forth to avoid an accident. It gave the vehicle its first "not acceptable" rating in 10 years.
Suzuki responded that the testing procedures used by Mount Vernon, N.Y.-based Consumers Union were "biased and completely inaccurate."