Suzuki GB’s launch of the Celerio has been slowed by its recall but overall sales will not be affected, according to the brand’s UK sales and marketing director Dale Wyatt.
Suzuki GB built up its biggest order bank for a pre-launch in the UK with 1,000 orders of its new Celerio city car with its car dealers before a consumer magazine test discovered a brake failure at 80mph.
The failure meant recalling the Celerio the day after it went on sale and stripping down its entire UK billboard and press marketing campaign, which Suzuki had invested a “substantial” amount in.
Wyatt admitted momentum with the Celerio launch has been slowed by six weeks, but insisted it has not impacted on the brand’s reputation.
Some of the money spent on marketing the Celerio was redirected towards promoting other models in Suzuki’s range like the Swift.
Wyatt said: “It’s annoying and it’s embarrassing, but we’ve fixed the problem within three weeks and I think customers have been extremely understanding.
“They know recalls happen all the time and I think they respect the way we have been up front and dealt with it.”
Suzuki had 43 Celerios with UK customers and a fleet of demonstrators were already with the Suzuki dealer network when it happened.
Wyatt praised the speed with which the brand’s parent company reacted and how dealers handled the situation with customers. Customers that were already in new Celerios were given a free courtesy car.
The brake failure was due to a safety mechanism engaging “way too early” to retract the pedal in the event of a crash.
All cars in the UK will have their brake pedal assembly replaced before end of this week and the car can go back on sale again.
This year will be one of transition for Suzuki, with the brand making way for new models by cutting the Alto, Splash, the old Grand Vitara and Vitara and the SX4 Classic.
This leaves the Celerio, SX4 S-Cross, new Vitara and Swift. There are plans for two new models for the brand every year for the next three years.
Suzuki almost broke into the top 20 manufacturers in the UK by registration volume last year with growth of 13% to 37,395 units. It will break through into the top 20 with new models on the way.
Suzuki revealed two new models at the recent motor show, both of which will head to the UK.
The iK-2 concept hints a production model coming next year, which will bridge the gap between the B and C-segment and sit above the Swift in Suzuki’s range.
The new model has been described as the more sensible option compared to the “radical” new Swift which will be replaced next year.
The iM-4 will also be heading to UK dealerships and will sit alongside the new Celerio as a more lifestyle and design led model to bring new customers in to the brand.