Fleet News

Suzuki confident ‘setback’ will not dent fleet sales

Suzuki’s city car, the Celerio, is ready to go back on sale less than a month after being pulled from the showrooms over a critical safety issue.

The manufacturer has completed fitting redesigned brake pedal assemblies to the 1,550 Celerio hatchback models it was forced to withdraw from the market, after tests by consumer magazine Autocar revealed a major fault.

Dale Wyatt, Suzuki GB sales and marketing director, told Fleet News: “Thanks to tremendous support from the factory, we have been able to get back on track with this car only three weeks after the problem was discovered.

“But, even though stocks will be in the network, recent events have had a big impact on our plans for advertising and promotion activities.

“In effect, the market introduction of Celerio has been put on hold. The model will now be relaunched in May, because the network will be at full-stretch in April with the introduction of our new Vitara crossover.”

Fleet News revealed at the end of 2014 how fleet industry influencers have been enlisted to help shape the way Suzuki markets its next new models in Britain.

Asked if the recall would have an impact on his ambitions to increase the brand’s share of business in the company car sector, Wyatt said: “I’m still confident of achieving our plans for steady growth – and the Celerio will contribute to that. We think it’s a winner. This is a good little car that we think will appeal as community transport for people like nurses and social workers.”

Suzuki had hoped to have demonstration vehicles out with the leasing companies by now, but Wyatt says the setback should prove nothing more than an irritation.

He said: “It takes time to place a car on the choice lists and, in general, user-choosers place orders two or three months before their car is due for replacement.”

In a full year, Wyatt hopes to register up to 8,000 units of the five-door model. “We’ve corrected the engineering tolerances that caused the braking problem and we’re getting over the embarrassment it caused,” he said.

“After a successful initial introduction, the car was well received, but what happened meant that we were unable to deliver more than 1,000 orders.

“Fortunately, we had to tell fewer than 40 customers to stop driving their cars and provide them with temporary transport. And the upside is that most of the orders were for delivery in the new number plate year. The issue has not caused too many problems. We are working with customers in a bespoke way to compensate for any inconvenience.”


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