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Suzuki to make a Splash

CHONGQING ¨C Chang¡¯an-Suzuki Automobile Co., Ltd. hopes to introduce the Splash next year to replace the Alto. Alto has been a pioneering model in China¡¯s mini vehicle segment. The Splash will likely be produced in China in late 2008 and go on sale in January, 2009.


The Splash will make its global debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September. Sales in Europe will begin early next year, and later Splash will be introduced to China and other countries and regions.


The vehicle will be powered by a 1.3L high-pressure common-rail diesel engine and two gasoline engines ¨C a 1.0L 3-cylinder unit and a 1.2L 4-cylinder engine.


The chassis of the Splash is based on Suzuki¡¯s New Swift. The body is close to 3.8m long and the wheelbase close to 2.4m. It is similar to the New Swift in size, yet different in appearance and market positioning.


With a lower displacement than the New Swift, the Splash is anticipated to have a low price tag of around ¥50,000 ($6,579).


Yet Chang¡¯an-Suzuki hasn¡¯t revealed the actual time for localization. ¡°Some detailed problems still need to be resolved, so we cannot nail down the exact time for local production,¡± a source in Chang¡¯an-Suzuki said, ¡°but as Suzuki promises to launch a brand new model every year from Chang¡¯an-Suzuki, it¡¯s safe to assume that the Splash will be produced in China next year. We will not develop a higher-positioned vehicle than the SX-4 next year, and new versions of the Swift and the New Swift will be launched this year, so the Alto is the only model left to be upgraded in 2008.¡±


The slumping mini vehicle market suffered a sales decrease of 9.71 percent in the first six months of this year compared with the same period in 2006. In the meantime, Alto sold only 17,180 units, down 32.94 percent year from year, according to CBU-Autostats. ¡°We have to quicken our pace in launching new models in such a swiftly shrinking mini vehicle market,¡± said the source.


Yet Toshiaki Hashimoto, chief representative of Suzuki¡¯s Beijing Office, told CBU/CAR that Suzuki displayed the Splash in China only as a concept vehicle: so far, there are no concrete plans to produce it in China.

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