May 15, 2014 3:03 am JST

Suzuki moving to build sedans, SUVs in China

NAOKI WATANABE, Nikkei staff writer

Suzuki Motor is beginning production of midsize sedans and sport utility vehicles in China.

TOKYO -- Suzuki Motor is beginning production of midsize sedans and sport utility vehicles in China as it looks to expand sales volume there by 10% this fiscal year.

     The automaker will start local production of Alivio sedans during the current fiscal year. In the SUV segment, it began Chinese production of the SX4 S-Cross late last year and plans to begin making a midsize model, tentatively called the iV-4, there in fiscal 2015.

     Both SUVs are equipped with Suzuki's AllGrip next-generation four-wheel drive technology, which uses electronic controls to achieve optimum driving performance regardless of road condition.

     All production is slated to occur at a joint venture plant with Chang'an Automobile that began operating in February.
 
     Until last year, Suzuki has made small cars like the Alto, Wagon R and Swift in China. But its lineup lacked in such offerings as sedans that are very popular in that market. As a result, its Chinese sales in fiscal 2013 dipped 8% from the prior year to 233,000 units.

     The Japanese automaker started joint venture production in China in 1995. At present, it has two joint venture plants, one each in Chongqing and Jiangxi Province, but the future of the latter is in doubt because Suzuki's partner was acquired by a Beijing-based automaker last year.