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Suzuki: Ready for the next step

Date: 09 December 2014   |   Author:

Suzuki has threatened to make inroads into the fleet sector before but this time it's got the right product and the right plan, as Paul Barker discovers

Suzuki is about as retail-focused a brand as you'll see in the UK, with less than 5% of its registrations in the corporate sector. But it wants to quadruple that figure with a combination of new products, new initiatives and an increased presence in the contract hire and leasing arena.

The firm admits that 20% is still quite a modest figure, in an industry where the average is around 50%. But this is new ground for Suzuki. The catalyst was the launch of the S-cross crossover 12 months ago, a vehicle described as the "trigger car to enter into fleet" by Suzuki's sales and marketing director Dale Wyatt, and also the first Suzuki to get a specific fleet launch to industry influencers with the goal of ensuring it got the RVs the firm was looking for.

"We know we've got a big opportunity with fleet and looking ahead we have a suite of fleet-type products," he says. "Knowing these were coming, with big changes in low CO2, we knew if we did the right things and got the RVs the cars deserve, and manage whole life cost, then there are opportunities in fleet."

Having spent the last year establishing the S-cross in the crossover sector pioneered by the Nissan Qashqai, thoughts are now turning to the Vitara, revealed at the Paris motor show in September and arriving in the UK next April.

"That gives us the chance to build on the success of S-cross, because the two fastest-growing segments are crossover and small SUV," continues Wyatt, explaining that the Vitara will be shorter in length but taller than the S-cross, with more outgoing styling. "The S-cross is a matrix car. It's got a good boot. Its CO2, MPG and passenger legroom all do well versus the competition, but it hasn't got the emotive design of a Kia Sportage or Range Rover Evoque. This car has got that," Wyatt declares.

He identifies the Skoda Yeti and Vauxhall Mokka as key Vitara rivals, a view echoed by Andrew Wale, Suzuki national corporate sales and remarketing manager. "If you look at the competition, it stands out as being quite individual - the Renault Captur and Nissan Juke are stylised but not necessarily practical and the Skoda Yeti is practical but not as stylised," says Wale. "This is an affordable SUV with all those qualities and good BIK and fuel economy."