If there’s an auto show known for fostering quirky concepts, it’s the Tokyo Motor Show. Japan’s own Suzuki showed off three concepts that just wouldn’t be at home anywhere else.
We haven’t discussed Suzuki much recently, and a lot has been happening as the company tries to make a name for itself outside the umbrella of Volkswagen. Two years ago, the companies formed a partnership with the intent of sharing technologies. To make a long story short, Suzuki doesn’t feel it’s getting the benefit it was promised and wants out. According to Bloomberg,
Each company has accused the other of breaching the cooperation agreement, which was meant to supply Suzuki with technology and provide VW with access to the Indian car market. The carmakers have been at odds since VW described Suzuki as an “associate” in its 2010 annual report. Suzuki said on Nov. 18 it had terminated the partnership with the Wolfsburg, Germany- based automaker, which failed to yield a single joint project.
An arbitration process has started, which could take two years to complete. On top of that, Suzuki’s November sales in the U.S. are down 22 percent from last year. Though it offers two solid, well-reviewed cars (the SX4 and Kizashi), Suzuki suffers here from too few dealers and stiff competition.
Two of the concepts in Tokyo probably wouldn’t do much to turn things around here. One might have a chance, if it were to ever enter production.
There aren’t enough bubbles on the road. Especially bubbles shaped like a 1990s portable CD player. The electric Q concept has tandem seating for two and a range of a whole 6 miles. Which would be good for…umm….
The Chevy Volt has a good theory going. It’s powered by batteries but with a gas engine to take over charging when necessary. The faults with the Volt are that it costs too dang much, it uses premium fuel and there might, just maybe, be a slight fire hazard with the batteries. Suzuki’s answer to the same riddle is seen above. Its fault? It has no doors. But it does have a 12-18-mile electric-only range and a small gas engine to take over if that range is exceeded. Smaller batteries plus less range equals lower cost…which is a good thing. If the technology shows up on future Suzukis, it could sell. Just not in the U.S., because we like our V8 Camaros instead.
Suzuki Regina Concept
This is the one. How many times have I said we need to dump the hybrid thing and go with efficient 4-cylinders? Suzuki gets it. The Regina concept is an idea for a 1,600-pound sedan that gets 75 miles per gallon. Autocar says that the concept is powered by a turbocharged, 800-cc gasoline engine and uses both start-stop and regenerative braking tech to achieve such phenomenal fuel economy. This would be a fun car and, to my eye, looks terrific! If only there were a way to make it legal for U.S. streets…
Is there anything Suzuki can do to reverse its fortunes in America?