Swift Delay: Suzuki Swift U.S. Launch Delayed One Year

Suzuki's revised Swift subcompact hatchback will make its first public appearance at the Paris Motor Show next month, and will launch in Japan and Europe shortly thereafter. Due to exchange rates and the tie-up with Volkswagen, however, the Swift's U.S. launch has been delayed.

Suzuki pulled its Swift, a different model altogether, from the U.S. market after the 2001 model year, but has sold an updated Swift in other markets for the past decade. The car's U.S. launch was scheduled for later this fall, and Suzuki made it as far as beginning to set pricing before those plans were put on hold.

The main reason for the delay, according to a Suzuki spokesman, is the rise of the yen against the dollar. "At the moment, if the exchange rate continues like it is, we couldn't expect very much profit," Takuma Mizuyoshi, a Suzuki spokesman, told Automotive News. "So that's a concern right now."

Suzuki's first casualty because of the unfavorable exchange rate was its American marketing budget. Suzuki spent $14.9 million on marketing in the first quarter of 2009, a figure that dropped to only $3.9 million during the first quarter of 2010.

Another reason for the Swift's delay is the company's recent tie-up with German giant Volkswagen, which recently purchased 19.9 percent of Suzuki. The two companies are investigating how best to align product strategies, and are expected to have an indication of where platforms and powertrain development can be combined in a few weeks. After that, the Swift could be given the green light for importation to the United States.

Although the Swift's U.S. launch was frozen, Suzuki is now waiting for more favorable exchange rates and VW-Suzuki product decisions. Even with those delays, we can still expect the Swift to launch in 2011, at the earliest.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)

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