Suzuki plans to step up fleet sales
06 October 2016
Author: Alisdair Suttie
Suzuki has plans to sell more than 40,000 cars in the UK in 2017 and eventually 50,000 per annum, with much of that growth coming from the fleet sector.
Key to this ambition is the new Ignis, which goes on sale early next year and has a strong appeal to company drivers, reckons Suzuki GB's sales and marketing director Dale Wyatt.
He told BusinessCar: "Very often, the first car in a new segment turns out to the leader and we believe Suzuki has this opportunity with the Ignis in the compact SUV market. This is a car that is small on outside, but has features like a sliding rear seat to vary passenger and boot space, and it can head off-road thanks its 4x4 capability."
Wyatt is aware the Ignis will not be a huge fleet model, but he also points out Suzuki has an appeal for some: 'What we can offer with the Ignis is for user-choosers and also the utilities market where fleets need something with more ability than a supermini but they don't want the costs associated with larger SUVs. Very few manufacturers can rival Suzuki's line-up of SUVs as we have the Vitara and facelifted S-Cross and now the Ignis.
"There will also be a SHVS (Smart Hybrid Vehicle by Suzuki) petrol-electric hybrid for the Ignis that is the same as used on the Baleno. We think there are still massive gains to be made with petrol engines rather than going down the electric vehicle route and the Ignis SHVS will have the lowest carbon dioxide emissions of any all-wheel drive SUV of its type at 97g/km."
A new three-tier four-wheel drive strategy is being launched by Suzuki, which comprises 'Auto', 'Select' and 'Pro'. The Ignis forms the Auto arm of this as its all-wheel drive system operates on demand without the driver making any effort. Vitara and S-Cross make up the Select models, while the long-serving Jimny is the Pro vehicle.
Far from the Jimny being regarded as long in the tooth as it approaches its 20th anniversary in 2018, Suzuki sees it as a core model for any fleet that needs serious off-road credentials in a vehicle. A new Jimny is planned for 2019 and it will continue with a rugged separate chassis and far greater mud-plugging skills than the rest of the Suzuki range.
All models in the range need to perform better in fleet says Wyatt: "We're underperforming in fleet, with 76 percent of our sales coming from retail. This is why have recruited another five dedicated fleet staff. Some will be focused on SMR costs and RVs, while others will look at sales and relationship building. Up until now, we've had quite a fleet naïve network, so we are changing that and working with Colin Tourick to help us understand how to be more fleet aware. We're already seeing growth in this sector with Vitara and S-Cross, so it's a strategy that's working."