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Suzuki Oz: 30,000 sales or bust!

Integral: Grand Vitara III launches here at the end of August.

Suzuki Motor Corporation sets a massive sales target for Australia

11 Aug 2005

SUZUKI Motor Corporation has forecast a significant rise in sales volume of its passenger cars over the next five years, including a massive four-fold increase in Australia.

Suzuki board member and head of overseas marketing, Mr Hirotaka Ono, toldAustralian journalists last week that the United States, India, China and Europewould also contribute to the sales growth.

The number-four Japanese manufacturer, which globally outsells Mazda, Mitsubishi and Subaru, expects to exceed the two-million-unit mark this year – up from 1.9 million last year – and reach 2.6 million annual sales by 2009, the year of the company’s centennial.

Mr Ono said the intention for Australia was to increase sales from 7200 units per annum (achieved last year) to 30,000 before the end of this decade. North American annual sales were expected to rise from 80,000 to 250,000 over the same period, and Europe from 240,000 to 350,000.

He said three main factors were behind the growth drive in Australia: an increased brand profile, bigger engine displacements and larger model variations, and, thirdly, the introduction of an all-new model each year for the next six years.

Underlining this would be a greater focus on Suzuki’s perceived strengths andmeasures addressing key weaknesses.

Mr Ono said Suzuki undertook extensive research in 2001 to reestablishthe brand. The result was the "Way of Life" global re-branding which aims to addexcitement and lifestyle enhancement to all-new Suzuki cars, starting with theunveiling of the Swift in Japan late last year.

"Established virtues" were also derived from the research.

30 center imageThese comprise Suzuki’s ‘straight forward’ approach to its automobiles, the authenticity of Suzuki’s claims for them (the off-road ability of the Grand Vitara, for instance), and the customer service Suzuki provides.

Negatives associated with the company include a lack of innovative design, low cabin comfort and a lack of attention to detail, harmony and warmth, brand communication and pride of ownership.

Mr Ono said that in the past Suzuki’s engineering department "never discussed anything with marketing during product development".

Now there is an open dialogue within the company, with a clearer idea of who the customer is.

The success of the new Swift and the promising third-generation Grand Vitara due soon are the first fruit of Suzuki’s new approach.

For Japan, India and Europe, a stylish five-door hatchback replacement for the sub-B super-mini class Alto should improve Suzuki’s market share in this key segment from next year.

Mr Ono, who said he wanted to see the Alto in Australia but acknowledged that such small four-seater 1.0-litre vehicles do not sell well here, was confident the new model had all the visual appeal of the Swift.

From 2007, the Liana-replacing SX4 and its derivatives, a new larger 4WD the following year and larger sedans and wagons derived from Suzuki’s co-operation with General Motors should also drive up sales.

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