The new Kizashi medium size sedan will redefine the Suzuki brand in New Zealand, according to a senior Japanese motor industry executive.
Suzuki had spent four years preparing for the arrival of the Kizashi, said Tak Hayasaki, managing director of Suzuki in New Zealand and Australia.
Since 2007 Suzuki has upgraded facilities, signage and branding, and invested more than $80 million in the Australian and New Zealand market.
Mr Hayasaki was in Auckland to launch the new model, and was joined from the Suzuki Motor Corporation in Japan by Tadao Kaneko, chief designer in charge of styling for the Kizashi, and Masaaki Kato, manager of automobile marketing for Oceania, Latin America and South Africa.
“After enduring the financial crisis which hit our industry last year, we have started 2010 strongly with great results from the Swift and SX4 models particularly,” said Mr Hayasaki.
“Those strong first quarter figures put us on track to meet our 2010 national target of keeping Swift as the number one selling supermini model and maintaining a ranking in the top six sellers for passenger car sales in New Zealand.
“However, I still strongly believe there is much more potential for the Suzuki brand to grow in New Zealand,” said Mr Hayasaki.
“We have seen the market shift from large cars to smaller, more efficient vehicles and this, combined with new product like Kizashi, will help Suzuki to continue to grow in the future.”
Since Mr Hayasaki moved to Australia in 2006 one of his key tasks was to ready every area of Suzuki for the Kizashi launch.
“For four years we have worked on an extensive dealer development process, ensuring we had the right dealers in the right places,” he said.
“We have worked with our dealers to achieve new levels of professionalism and client satisfaction as we prepare to cater for a new level of customers,” said Mr Hayasaki.
Suzuki has invested over $1 billion developing the comprehensively specified Kizashi - twice as much as the highly acclaimed Swift.
Mr Kato said while new motor vehicle sales in Japan last year were hit by the global financial crisis, Suzuki managed better than most, finishing in third place overall with a market share of 13.6 per cent.
“Globally, Suzuki Motor Corporation was one of the few companies to record a profit, maintaining a run of nearly 60 years of doing so,” he said. “We recorded total sales of just over 2.3 million cars.”
Development of Kizashi, a premium mid-sized car, was undertaken to meet the demands of the growing number of customers who aspired to own a Suzuki.
Kizashi was the new flagship in the brand’s line-up, and would allow customers to move on with the brand.
Mr Kato said while Suzuki had a proven record in producing class leading compact cars, it now had a world class medium size car for the first time in its 100 year history.
The Kizashi’s high level of standard equipment and keenly competitive pricing has taken the local motor industry by surprise.
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