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Suzuki hint at sedan

The 2011 Suzuki Swift.
The 2011 Suzuki Swift. Drive

SUZUKI Australia hopes to see a sedan version of its city-sized hatchback, the Swift, within a few years - and it could be built in Thailand, not Japan.

While there's not been any confirmation that a sedan version of the new Swift will be built, it is a likely proposition considering the existing model is still being built in both sedan and hatchback versions for international markets.

Suzuki Australia boss Tak Hayasaki told Drive at the launch of the new Swift hatchback that a sedan version makes sense considering the increasing interest in city-sized sedans in Australia.

The new model, should it arrive, would likely be built in Suzuki's soon-to-be-opened plant in Thailand, and would be brought in to fight against the likes of fellow Thai-built small sedans such as Honda's City and the twins-under-the-skin, Ford's Fiesta and Mazda's 2. It would be the first time a Swift sedan has been sold in Australia since 1995.

"There might be a plan [for a Swift sedan] for the future, of course - but not next year," says Hayasaki.

He says the new manufacturing plant in Thailand would be a good option for the Swift sedan, taking advantage of the free trade agreement with that country that means the 5 per cent import tariff does not apply.

"We have to see the variation... so we have to see which is the best way. Because people like Japanese product, but Thai product is getting so familiar," he says. "We haven't decided at all - the Thai factory is going to produce firstly for domestic sales, and the next step will be carefully selected.

"In the next 10 years, every country could have an FTA [free trade agreement]. So, you used to have 10 per cent import duty, now its 5 per cent. And in five or six years, more countries will have no duty. So really - which country has what kind of model we're selling - [Thailand] could make sense," he says.

Hayasaki says the cost savings involved in a potential shift to Thai production could also add up to a better outcome for consumers.

But how much demand exists for a sedan version of the Swift sedan will play a large part in its future Down Under.
"Suzuki's strategy is to make the most cost-efficient model - if the quantity is there. If not, that doesn't make sense."

The Japanese brand's Indian arm Maruti Suzuki still produces the current generation Swift hatchback, as well as a sedan version known as the DZire for both the local and export markets.

The DZire never made it to Australia due to difficulty in manufacturing the cars to Australian standards. And according to Hayasaki, the next generation Swift - should a sedan version come to fruition - it's not likely that an Indian-built Swift sedan ever arrive Down Under, according to Hayasaki.



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