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Suzuki aiming for 30,000 sales next year

Growth spurt: To achieve its 30,000 sales target next year, Suzuki Australia will need to maintain interest in its popular Vitara (below) and Swift (left) models while introducing new models like the Baleno hatchback.

Vitara, Baleno and new product to increase Suzuki’s overall volume by 50 per cent

Suzuki logo29 Jul 2016

By TUNG NGUYEN

WITH high expectations for its recently launched Baleno and continued interest in a strong selling Vitara SUV, Suzuki Australia is confident in achieving its 30,000 sales target in 2017 – a 50 per cent increase on its current sales tally.

Speaking to GoAuto at the launch of the Baleno, Suzuki Australia general manager Andrew Moore said it was difficult for the small volume brand to stand out in a crowded market, but new offerings like the popular Vitara have helped steadily grow its sales volume.

“When you’re making small cars, it’s very hard to make the business work. But now with Vitara it’s a bit more of a robust sort of business,” he said.

“We’re aiming for 30,000 units, and I’d probably like to see that in 2017 into 2018. Whether we can get 30,000 for 2017 whole year, not sure, but at least average month towards getting towards 30,000.

“If you look at year-on-year, our average sales per month is 19 per cent up on 2014, so we’re in a good position and from a business perspective, it’s better for us because we’re selling bigger cars overall in our line-up, so there’s a little bit more dollars in our business which we can put back into advertising and development and so forth.” In the first six months of 2016, Suzuki has tallied a 10,133 sales total, a slight 0.6 per cent increase over the same period last year, and is tracking to finish the year slightly ahead of 2015’s 19,086 sales total thanks to the launch of the new Baleno.

While sales of the ageing Swift have slipped by 21.5 per cent, 4734 this year down from last year’s 6032, the drop is in line with the light car segment’s overall 16.9 per cent decrease. An update to Suzuki’s perennial micro car is expected next year which should give its sales a shot in the arm.

Mr Moore said Suzuki’s desire to increase its market share in Europe with new and updated models is having a positive knock-on effect in the local market.

“Currently in Europe, we (Suzuki) sit at about 1.2 per cent market share, we want to boost that significantly to 2 or 3 per cent in the coming years,” he said.

“So what’s good for Australia is that we’re finding that the product that is developed more for Europe, suits Australian tastes better.

“Australia is a quasi-European/US market, so we’re finding that’s a better thing for us, we’ve seen it with Vitara, we see it with the styling of Baleno and we also look at Ignis – which is more Euro focused – and we’re hoping to get that car later in the year as well.” However, with Baleno stock capped at around 4800 units a year, Suzuki will look to sustaining the success of its Vitara small SUV and potential fresh product, like the aforementioned Swift and Ignis, to grow its sales further.

“So Vitara has been a key for us this year, and we’re sort of exceeding our expectations in the last two months, we did over 600 units, so it’s been very strong,” Mr Moore said.

“We had a lot of issue around here (October 2015-January 2016) with stock, each month was around 100 backorders, so sales were probably closer to that 350 mark, plus the difficult thing for Suzuki is that we haven’t got customers used to waiting for cars yet, so when they come in and we say ‘we can’t get you one until three months’, unfortunately they walk out.

“So we lost a lot sales around there as well, which we would have got if we had stock.” Mr Moore said Suzuki Australia would not compete in every market segment anytime soon and maintained that its increase in sales will come from private buyers, not from fleet sales.

“Suzuki’s focus is the compact space of the market, and with our aim we’re probably not going to have a full model line-up in the short term, but our aim is to be a dominate player in that compact space,” he said.

“So our aim is in SUV and passenger car compact space to be the most popular brand, and when we say popular, we’re not going to go heavy into fleet, we’re going to stay focused on the private customer… which is good for customer’s resale value. You know once you start getting into fleet, the big discount kills the resale value when those cars come back on the market, so we hold pretty well in that regard.”

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