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Automobiles

Suzuki wants to be the Tesla of connected minicars

Japanese automaker to offer remote monitoring and other services by 2025

Suzuki Motor President Toshihiro Suzuki stands with the Wagon R minicar. Minicars account for roughly 40% of the Japanese auto market.

TOKYO -- Suzuki Motor plans to make all of its minicars connected vehicles by 2025, Nikkei has learned, adding new services like remote monitoring in a category where it competes for the top spot.

The likes of Tesla and Toyota Motor have led the way in connecting full-size vehicles to entertainment and services through wireless networks.

Now, this trend is spreading to minivehicles, which make up roughly 40% of the Japanese auto market. Toyota-owned Daihatsu Motor, Suzuki's main rival in this segment, is considering a similar move.

Suzuki's rollout of connected minicars starts with the updated Spacia miniwagon due out this month. It will continue through 2025, starting with main models.

Larger Suzuki vehicles will be made into connected cars after that.

Suzuki's connected cars will connect to operators in cases of accidents or breakdowns. The system will automatically guide the car to the nearest dealership or repair shop. A dealership can remotely check the car for malfunctions.

Suzuki's push into digital technology for its cars marks a departure for an automaker known for a laser focus on low production costs.

Communications devices and other core systems will be developed in-house. Some of the technology will come from Toyota, which has entered into a tie-up with Suzuki.

Global sales of new connected autos will total 94.2 million in 2035, according to a forecast by Fuji Keizai -- roughly triple the 2019 figure. The Tokyo-based market intelligence firm sees them accounting for 80% of new passenger vehicles sold in 2035, up from 34% in 2019.

While known for its fuel-efficient engines, Suzuki is also making a push into electric vehicles, with plans to roll out an electric minicar in Japan by 2025 in a price range starting at 1 million yen ($8,700) after government subsidies.

The company has similar plans in India, where subsidiary Maruti Suzuki holds a leading market share in passenger vehicles.

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