Fleet interest as Suzuki plots electric future – Business Motoring

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SUZUKI expects its fleet market to grow as the brand makes what many observers see as a much-awaited move towards electrification.

The Japanese brand has long been known for its focus on retail sales and in October last year, Suzuki product and planning head Ed Norman told Business Motoring that while the new hybrid models launched recently by the brand make a difference to  business aspirations, the focus remains on retail.

However at the launch of an updated version of the Suzuki Swace this month, the brand’s car sales head Dale Wyatt indicated that the brand’s now ‘hybrid-only’ tag line and a forthcoming programme of EV launches will boost Suzuki’s fleet credentials.

Speaking exclusively to Business Motoring Wyatt agreed that the Vitara, S-Cross and Swace offer fleet opportunities to Suzuki. “If we can do it profitably and sensibly then we’d like to – we are not anti-fleet, we just want to be balanced.”

2304suzuki wyatt

Wyatt – definite views on fleet future and making electric work.

Wyatt added that fleet is a large part of the marketplace and with the key part of success in the market being managing residual values, Suzuki has put a lot of energy in terms of resource and people into this area. “I think in time fleet and retail will merge,” he added. “We are moving towards mobility solutions where subscriptions and leasing blur.”

Suzuki will launch its first full EV in the UK in 2024 and plans to add one a year up to 2030, as part of a £12.4 billion electric strategy that also encompasses motorcycles and even marine engines. But Wyatt emphasises that the expense of electric is a much larger challenge for value and mainstream automotive brands as it is for premium makers. “An EV drivetrain costs £10,000 more than an internal-combustion one and adding £10,000 to the cost of a £50,000 car is far less of a challenge than on a £20,000 car.”

The reveal of Suzuki’s electric plans comes as the landscapers changing in Europe, with manufacturers using e-fuels in their cars securing an exemption from forthcoming legislation banning the sale of new combustion-engined cars, but Wyatt is unconvinced.

“I’m no expert but everything I read says that efuels are expensive, a premium product, so I’m not sure whether e-fuels will ever play a role with volume and value brands,” he said.

2304suzuki ev concept

Newly unveiled concept will be the first of five electric cars.

“It’s interesting – I think the Government should legislate the outcome rather than the solution. Whether it’s hydrogen, e-fuels or another technology, the Government should give the industry the challenge and help us solve the problem rather than mandate a solution.”

He believes too that more will need to be done to propel consumers towards EVs. “You’ll need the government and energy providers in partnership with risks on both sides, and equally manufacturers and Government in partnership again with risks for both sides.

“Eventually we are going to have to have infrastructure that’s better for everybody and incentives, whether VAT or whatever, that tip people into buying electric cars. I think it’s a couple of years away but that point is coming.”




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