Japan’s Suzuki Motor Corporation has applied for the government’s electric vehicle (EV) scheme to produce hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs).
Suzuki is the sixth car maker to join the HEV project after Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Mazda, but only Toyota has been granted Board of Investment (BoI) incentives.
Yoji Murosaka, president of Suzuki Motor (Thailand), said the company has already submitted its application to the BoI.
“We are in discussions with the government about how to introduce hybrid cars at our production facility in Rayong,” he said.
Kinji Saito, executive general manager for global automobile marketing, said the company has hybrid vehicle technology to serve future automotive trends, but could not provide further details on the direction of its Thai operations.
Mr Saito said Thailand has been a production hub for Suzuki since it decided to join the government’s eco-car scheme in 2007, launching the first Thai-made Swift eco-car in 2012.
“Suzuki still believes the 1.2-litre eco-car is a competitive model in Thailand’s passenger car market,” he said.
Suzuki is one of five eco-car manufacturers, along with Nissan, Honda, Mitsubishi and Toyota.
Suzuki spent 8 billion baht in 2011 for the first phase of its Rayong plant, which makes 50,000 cars a year. In early 2013, the company spent another 1.3 billion baht to raise capacity at the plant to 100,000 vehicles.
Until now, Suzuki has spent 18 billion baht on eco-car production and makes three models — the Swift, Celerio and Ciaz.
In late 2014, Suzuki was granted eco-car phase two privileges from the BoI for an investment of 8.43 billion baht to make 100,000 vehicles a year.
Yesterday, Suzuki introduced the all-new Swift eco-car locally and announced it is now entering the second eco-car phase.
Mr Murosaka said eco-car phase two is another milestone investment for Suzuki, but he would not reveal the total value.
“The new 1.2-litre Swift meets all eco-friendly requirements, such as carbon dioxide emissions of less than 100 grammes per kilometre [g/km] and fuel efficiency of more than 23.3 km per litre,” he said.
The specifications for eco-car phase one required CO2 emissions of less than 120 g/km and fuel efficiency over 20 km/litre.
But retail prices of the new Swift start from 499,000-629,000 baht, which is 30,000-70,000 baht more than the previous model launched in 2012.
Mr Murosaka said the 1.0-litre Celerio and the 1.25-litre Ciaz will remain under eco-car phase one until Suzuki makes new versions.
He said the company expects to sell 15,700 Swifts in 2018, with plans to export 4,000 of them this year to Asean countries, starting from April.
Suzuki aims to sell 34,000 vehicles in Thailand this year, up 36%, with a market share of 3.3%, up by 0.4 percentage points.
Last year, the company sold 25,011 units, up 9.2% year-on-year, capturing 2.9% of the market.
For the company’s eco-car shipments, it plans to export 27,000 completely built-up (CBUs) units and 23,000 completely knocked-down (CKDs) units in 2018. The Swift will be exported to Asia and Asean, the Celerio to Europe and the Ciaz to North America.
Last year, Suzuki exported 36,000 CBUs and 20,000 CKDs.
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- Position: Business Reporter