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Suzuki increases Vitara supply

Blown away: Suzuki is expecting fewer supply issues for its Vitara Turbo that will arrive in showrooms in the third quarter.

Lack of stock from Hungarian factory has impacted Suzuki Vitara sales since launch

7 Mar 2016

SUZUKI Australia's local boss says the company is working through the supply issues it has encountered since the launch of its reborn Vitara small SUV, and that it anticipates better stock of the forthcoming turbocharged version.

The Japanese car-maker launched the Vitara in September last year and despite strong interest in the funky crossover, it has been hamstrung by stock constraints from the factory in Hungary.

In its first four months on sale in 2015, Suzuki sold 1109 Vitaras – an average of about 277 a month – but Suzuki Australia general manager Andrew Moore said he believes the new entrant to the segment could have sold more.

“I am happy with the level of inquiry and interest in the vehicle, but there is no doubt that the supply issues have lost us a lot of sales,” he admitted to GoAuto.

“I think we could have been selling 400 a month. We have been closer to 300.

But each month we have had 100-200 back orders. We are only just now starting to have a lower number of back-orders that we can't supply in the same month.

It has only just gone below 100 at the end of last month.”“I am happy with the reception of the vehicle but it is just a shame - I think we could have sold a lot more if the cars were available straight away. But that will rectify itself as we go forward.”

Mr Moore said while the supply was better now than at launch last year, he added that some customers still face a wait to take delivery of their new Vitara, with the longer production process for the two-tone variants pushing wait times out.

“It depends on colour and specification. Our two-tone colours are the most popular. There tends to be a wait list on them. Suzuki Australia has no stock.

All our stock is with dealers. Every car that has come in, dealers have purchased.

“A lot of the models now, if customers go in, they would be looking at a few weeks, probably maximum for most of the range. There may be some that are immediate delivery too.”

The Vitara had a strong start to 2016, with 367 units shifted, outselling the likes of the Ford EcoSport (249) and the Nissan Juke (216), while coming dangerously close to outselling the Volkswagen Tiguan (410).

As previously confirmed, Suzuki will introduce the Vitara Turbo, powered by a 103kW/220Nm 1.4-litre BoosterJet four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine, in the third quarter of the year, which will replace the naturally aspirated 1.6-litre RT-X.

While Mr Moore said there would be a freer supply of Vitara Turbo compared with when the initial Vitara launched, he said he thinks there would still be a wait.

Mr Moore said there would be a promotional focus on the Vitara Turbo when it arrives later in the year.

“Our aim is to make it the hero vehicle of our marketing. We will promote the entire range but really it is going to be the lead car for us.”

He also said it was difficult to predict what percentage of sales the Turbo would make up, but added that the company was confident it will be a popular pick.

“We are looking at it being between 35 to maybe 50 per cent of sales. It's a tricky one to know for Suzuki, a lot of our vehicles are closer to $20,000 than $30,000, obviously the Turbo is the upper-spec vehicle.

“But it is a fantastic engine and has amazing fuel economy and in that segment people tend to spend closer to $30,000 so we think, for the segment, it is probably right. It is just a bit of a leap for Suzuki. I would like to think it would get to 50 per cent because as a value proposition, it is outstanding.”

Another Suzuki model has been the victim of the Vitara's success, with sales of the similarly positioned S-Cross taking a dive. Sales dropped by 60 per cent last year compared with 2014, while its January haul of 29 units was a whopping 79.4 per cent behind the same month last year.

Mr Moore said some buyers had opted for the newer Vitara in showrooms, but also put the S-Cross results down to a halt on sales in late January – a directive from its Japanese parent company – over an unspecified issue reportedly relating to the car's airbags.

“Definitely the Vitara has impacted S-Cross. A lot of customers have chosen Vitara over S-Cross that would have probably picked an S-Cross. At the same time we have had some customers come in on Vitara and buy S-Cross,” he said.

“We had some supply issues and our stock was a little bit aged and we had limited colours. We have had new vehicles come through that have seen some improvement in sales. You are probably aware of the short stop on S-Cross but that has all been sorted out now. That impacted about four weeks worth of sales as well.

“Longer term Vitara will definitely be the higher-volume model for us, but we think having S-Cross provides a stronger offering to customers looking for that size type vehicle.”

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