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Suzuki  Hatch dispatch: The Swift has been instrumental in Suzuki's local growth.

Hatch dispatch: The Swift has been instrumental in Suzuki's local growth.

Former Suzuki chief puts his family first

HIS resignation just before Christmas came as a shock to industry watchers, but for David LeMottee, one of the good guys of the Australian car industry, it was the right time.

After almost seven years with the Suzuki automobiles national distributor, initially as NSW state manager and for the past five years as general manager, Mr LeMottee has resigned to spend more time with his family.

"I’ve been thinking about it for a fair while," he said.

"I just wanted a break. The time was right as Suzuki had had a really good run for a couple of years and most of the hard work had been done.

"I was also fairly confident the business could run with minimal supervision for the immediate future."

In the past few years Suzuki’s star has risen in Australia on the back of good pricing and the arrival of the respected Swift hatch, Swift Sport and Grand Vitara 4WD.

Sales have risen from 6387 in 2000 when Mr LeMottee joined Suzuki to 15,798 last year, with the Swift responsible for about a third of those sales.

"If you’ve got the right product at the right price it makes your job so much easier to do," he said.

Suzuki center imageMr LeMottee (left) joined Suzuki in 2000 "when the product range wasn’t so good and the exchange rate wasn’t so good".

"The Koreans had all the pricing advantages and Suzuki had to slog it away for a few years until we started to get some good pricing and product."

He said the highlight of his time at Suzuki was working with "a really good bunch of people".

"The thing that made me feel most excited was leading the team."

Mr LeMottee said that although he was taking a break from the business, he was still engaged with the auto industry.

"I’m pretty confident the car industry is going to keep going ahead in leaps and bounds," he said.

"However, the traditional make-up of the industry has changed. Fuel prices and new product has changed buyers’ tastes."

Suzuki Australia managing director Takeshi Hayasaki said Mr LeMottee had "done a tremendous job for us over a long period and we wish him well with his decision to seek new challenges".

"Suzuki automobiles is in very good health in Australia. The Swift is a marketplace winner and we have some exciting new product to introduce here shortly," Mr Hayasaki said.

"We believe we have a very strong outlook for 2007."

The optimistic view comes as Suzuki prepares to launch its Subaru Impreza-challenger, the all-wheel drive 2.0-litre SX4 hatch later this month.

And the future for Mr LeMottee?

"My longer term goal is that I’m not in retirement; I’m just having a sabbatical," he said.

One suspects that given his automotive expertise, he will not be idle for long.



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