Suzuki expands to keep on top of car market

LAST year, when Max Shilunga wanted to trade his bakkie for a smaller car, the Windhoek-based consultant sought advice from his mates. They told him to hang in there until all the global car-markers—from Ford and Volkswagen to Chevrolet, Suzuki and Honda—started really burning rubber as they rolled out more small offerings into the Namibian market.

It was, as it turned out, good advice. A year later, Shilunga says he “test drove all the beauties” and “was seduced by a couple of them.” Their N$115 500.00 to N$233 500.00 price tags did not bother him. But he finally settled for the 1.0 GL Alto costing N$99 900.00 made by Suzuki.

“Suzuki gives the best out of the driver. And you don’t have headaches settling for your piece,” says Shilunga. “That clinched the deal for me.”

Shilunga is not the only one who has fallen for Suzuki makes. To retain its head start catering to middle class consumers like Shilunga, Suzuki is on an expansion spree.

Less than three years after it started operations in South Africa, Suzuki Windhoek recently officially opened its doors.

Suzuki Windhoek has partnered local car sales giants Wolf Ritter and Willem Baartman who both invited all Namibian motorists to come and see the exciting vehicles Suzuki Auto has to offer and gave an assurance that is in Namibia for generations to come.

The new modern service and parts centre located in Bell Street was also opened together with the New Vehicle Showroom on the corner of Mandume Ndemufayo and David Hosea Meroro Street.

Suzuki Windhoek’s ‘Way of Life’ motto includes living by the four values of Suzuki Auto that creates the core brand value of excitement. These values are Straightforward – to be authentic, Sporty – to be active and dynamic, Value – make the right choice by offering quality and Spirit – focus on people by being human.

At the grand opening, the City of Windhoek’s Park Division received 50 trees as part of the Suzuki Windhoek Trees for Cars campaign that pledges a new tree for every new Suzuki vehicle sold in Namibia.

Kazuyuki Yamashita the Managing Director of Suzuki Auto South Africa explained that Namibia is an important part of Suzuki Auto South Africa’s plans and that Suzuki Windhoek is a most important development in line with their vision.

He congratulated Wolf Ritter and Baartman with a job well done and assured the audience that Suzuki is a brand for the future with products to fit our modern lifestyles. According to Yamashita as of September 2010 Suzuki Auto South Africa would have reached the 10 000 unit mark in South Africa. “This achievement is significant as it was done in a much shorter time frame than many of our competitors.”

Business partner Ritter said that Suzuki Windhoek is a modern business with skilled employees to look after Suzuki customers and that the business will grow at the pace dictated by market conditions.

“Suzuki is a quality brand with quality people and it’s a brand for the future,” he said.

Suzuki is 101 year old this year and Councillor Joseph Auala, Director of the Windhoek Vocational Centre as guest of honour at the function, said Suzuki is a brand that is well known for quality and innovation.

“For such a young dealership it was impressive to find out that Suzuki Windhoek was ranked fifth of all dealers with regard to the Customer Satisfaction Index and that this is clear testimony that customer satisfaction is always handled as a priority throughout the dealership,” said Auala.

He added that the economic crisis made people look differently at their lifestyles and the type of cars they buy and this represented an opportunity for Suzuki Windhoek as people are buying smaller and more efficient cars now.

Currently, there are five models in the current range of vehicles at Suzuki Windhoek, namely; Alto, Swift, SX4, Jimny and Grand Vitara. In addition, no Suzuki is sold locally without at least two airbags, power steering and most important, climate air-conditioning.

“In a world of uncertainty, it is good to know that certain things can be counted on and Suzuki Windhoek is such an example”, said Auala stating that the two partners Wolf Ritter and Willem Baartman bring together knowledge, energy and reputations of quality and dependability, that are good examples for others to emulate.

In tough times such as these created by the global recession, new car buyers look more critically at factors such as price, build quality, warranty, an inclusive service plan and specifications which represents value for money, a good reason why the Suzuki brand has sent shivers in the car industry, and a valid reason why it is destined to become an overnight success.

In spite of the proliferation of new models to choose from and Suzuki’s long absence from the Southern African market, the brand has already began torpedoing other competitors since its recent entry into the local market.

The cute SX4 is one of the finalists for the coveted South African Car of the Year title and its two SUV contenders, the tough little Jimny and the fancier Grand Vitara are all said to be exceptionally selling well, down South, and with good reason: competitively priced, cute and capable off-roaders with impressive specifications.

It is said before the global economic slump, the Suzuki’s SUV’s were probably the best value for money in this class.

Even though, they remain major contenders in a market where well-established brands such as VW Tiguan, Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV, Nissan X-Trail, Freelander, the Mitsubishi Outlander and Jeep Cherokee arm wrestle for market dominance.

Suzuki’s Grand Vitara is full of hidden surprises. Besides the price, space for luggage, bums, shoulders and legs is no problem at all and the smooth drive on the motorway and the well-insulated cabin adds the elegance.It will take seven occupants.

Where the Grand Vitara really shows true colours is the fact that it has a 4-cylinder, 16 valve, 2.4 litre engine churned via a five speed manual, permanently driving all four wheels.

With Suzuki’s arrival in Windhoek, picking a real winner in this class is virtually going to become impossible, but if you are in the market for a vehicle of this nature do not make up your mind until you have taken passed through Suzuki Windhoek’s office for a test drive—you will pleasantly be surprised. PF