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Product releases drive Suzuki rise

Suzuki GB is lining up a series of product launches next year to build on record year-to-September registrations of 21,479 units.

The company unveiled Ignis, a 'multi compact' supermini (spacious interior, small body) at the Birmingham motor show. Suzuki plans to have a Boleno GSR 3dr hatchback in showrooms by Easter, with uprated 1.8-litre engine. It will be joined by a new 5dr hatchback, which replaces the 4dr saloon.

Suzuki has also restyled the 2001 Swift model range, improving spec, and expanded the Grand Vitari range, adding a 2-litre 5dr derivative and a 2-litre common rail diesel option.

Suzuki GB sales and marketing director David Seward said: “We will possibly launch either a new 4dr saloon or a sports car later in 2001 – both are planned, but we have yet to decide which will come to the UK first.”

To avoid overlap between the Ignis and the Swift, Suzuki is to fade out the 1.3-litre Swift, leaving only the 1-litre option.

The entry-level Ignis 3dr costs £6,995, the 3dr GL £7,995 and 5dr GL £8,750.

Ignis is expected to attract women looking for a second car and Suzuki is targeting sales of between 3,000-4,000 next year.

“Ignis has been priced against the Toyota Yaris, but spec-to-spec it is around £500 better value,” said Mr Seward. Suzuki intends to extend its dealer network from 145 outlets to around 150-155 next year. Open points include London, Liverpool and Stockport.

But, more importantly, was a move to “increase throughput per dealer”, said Mr Seward. This year, Suzuki will retail around 26,000 cars, up 15% on 1999, at an average of around 179 cars per dealer. Next year, with a network around 150, it hopes to sell 30,000 models – 200 per dealer.

“We aim to have 2% of the UK market eventually, but on a controlled basis so we can absorb the growth,” said Mr Seward. Suzuki presently has a 1.13% market share.

“The new models will be key to this growth – we now have a fairly young model range,” he said. “The trend towards downsizing, due to ecological pressures, parking problems and congestion, will also help.”

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