Negotiations are expected to be completed soon and the Japanese brand could return as early as this year
by RAHIMI YUNUS / pic by BLOOMBERG
SUZUKI Motor Corp is negotiating with Naza Group of Cos to make a comeback, three years after exiting the country’s automotive market due to fierce competition in the small-car segment.
According to an industry source, negotiations between Suzuki and Naza are expected to be completed soon and the Japanese brand could return as early as this year.
“Both parties would go through certain assessments over the deal. They are already at the final stage of concluding the partnership agreement,” the source familiar with the matter told The Malaysian Reserve.
The source, who asked for anonymity as discussions are confidential, said models like Suzuki Swift and Jimny could be sold in the country. Both models were sold in the country previously. The Vitara model was a big hit before the global SUV craze.
The source also confirmed that the Japanese car brand would not partner Berjaya Corp Bhd (BCorp) to market its vehicles in Malaysia based on recent reports. BCorp had also denied such reports.
It is believed the partnership with Naza would only involve Suzuki cars, while the distribution of motorcycles in Malaysia would continue as the current practice.
Suzuki, which is largely known for compact but highly reliable brands, exited Malaysia in 2016 after a rationalisation exercise with Proton Holdings Bhd and DRB-Hicom Bhd.
Under the agreement signed in June 2015, Proton was given access to Suzuki’s models, platforms, power train and automotive technology with specific technical assistance.
A joint-venture company Suzuki Malaysia Automobile Sdn Bhd ceased its local assembly of Suzuki Swift at DRB-Hicom’s manufacturing complex in Pekan, Pahang.
Suzuki dealerships consolidated into Proton Edar Sdn Bhd. Proton later launched a co-developed MPV Ertiga in November 2016.
On its two-wheel business, Suzuki shuttered its assembly plant in Prai, Penang, in 2016 due to weak demand.
The company had largely eyed imported large-displacement motorcycles as the country’s affluence grew a fascination for big bikes.
Naza currently distributes Ferrari, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz, Kia, Peugeot, Citroen and Ducati brands.
The compact car market is very competitive. Perodua (Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua Sdn Bhd) takes the lion’s share of the market with the MyVi and Axia models. Proton has the Iriz, while and other brands also have similar offerings.
Last year, over 600,000 vehicles were sold in the country with the Myvi and Axia accounted for 149,233 units combined.
The compact car market continued to be a very lucrative market, especially among the younger Malaysians.