Suzuki New Zealand sales shrug off Covid-19: ‘what we do, we do well’
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Small-car brand Suzuki has bounced back better than most in New Zealand’s post-Covid-19 lockdown environment.
In both May and June, it exceeded 500 sales, putting it ahead of February and almost back to true pre-pandemic volumes.
Year-to-date Suzuki NZ has claimed 7.3 per cent share of passenger/SUV sales (so not including utes, of which Suzuki has none), which is not only a good lift on last year’s 6.2 per cent – it also puts Suzuki in a close fourth position, just 19 units behind Mazda (Kia and Toyota are the top performers). Last year Suzuki was seventh.
Read more: Suzuki takes on Toyota with Swift hybrid
In passenger vehicles alone (so no SUVs), it’s second only to Toyota year-to-date.
Suzuki NZ general manager of marketing Gary Collins reckons some of it’s down to renewed interest in small, economical vehicles – although a wealth of updates across the brand’s range since March have also played a big part.
“Some of our dealers have had to make hard decisions... But with our affordable, economical range of vehicles, we felt that we were in a stronger position than most in offering reliable motoring for people who want to keep their costs down.
“Not surprisingly, it’s brands largely focused on the private market that have been performing best since lockdown. Kia and Suzuki have both raised market share at the expense of more fleet-focused brands such as Mazda and Hyundai.
“As a small-vehicle vehicle specialist, we don’t have a huge range of models. But what we do, we do well. Suzuki has a 22 per cent share of the Micro, Light and Small SUV segments that we compete in – well clear of Kia at 15 per cent.”
The revised Swift Sport has been a star performer, despite being launched bang on lockdown: it clocked up 147 sales in May/June, a 39 per cent increase on the same time last year.
Swift remains the brand’s top selling range overall and a Kiwi small-car favourite: it outsells the rival Kia Rio (the Light segment’s second most popular model) three-to-one and Suzuki NZ has just added a hybrid model into the mix.
Vitara is the brand’s second most popular offering (a new $700 Safari styling package has just been added), but Collins says the big surprise is the Baleno supermini: boosted by a new SE model that adds the equipment from the RS but keeps the entry-level 1.4-litre engine, it’s now the brand’s third-most-popular model (265 sales year to date) and has overtaken Mazda2 and Volkswagen Polo.
A facelifted Ignis city car, with a bit more SUV styling flavour, has also been selling strongly: 98 sales through May/June and 221 year-to-date including the pre-facelift version.
One potential silver lining from the Covid-19 situation is more supply of the in-demand Jimny for NZ.
“Jimny lead times will come down,” says Collins. “Lockdown didn’t help initially as production capacity was further reduced.
“But now… we’re starting to see better allocations. Last month’s order shifted the lead time down from nine to five months and if we receive the same again, that should come down to under three months by the end of the year.”