This year has special significance for Suzuki as it is exactly a century since the founder, Michio Suzuki, took his first steps in business as a loom maker. Suzuki's centenary is a testimony to its founder's guiding vision of listening to customers and creating products that give them genuine satisfaction. But, this is also a year of challenges for Suzuki: amid the economic crisis, global sales in 2008 dropped one per cent to 2,361,000 units, and sales in Europe declined by eight per cent to 315,000 units over the same period. As Suzuki enters its second century during these challenging times, the automaker is listening to its customers more closely than ever and creating products that clearly reflect their needs and concerns.
A large part of Suzuki's efforts for the future is centered on the environment. Given the economic circumstances facing customers, the company believes that offering eco-friendly cars at the most affordable prices is vital for reducing CO2 emissions and fuel consumption; so as well as developing fuel cells and other next-generation power units, Suzuki is focusing on ways to maximise the environmental benefits of fully proven technologies. In order to deliver economical eco-friendliness, it is fully exploiting the know-how it has gained in more than 50 years of compact-car production and applying a proven Suzuki development approach that brings computer power and human talent together.
The culmination of Suzuki's recent environmental efforts is the Suzuki Alto, a cheerful, eco-friendly city car. Suzuki has based the Alto on a core concept of eco-friendliness since the beginning of its development. To make it environmentally-friendly without detracting from its styling, the company began optimising its aerodynamic performance in wind-tunnel tests at the initial clay-modelling stage. Through extensive laboratory, on-road testing and refinement, Suzuki achieved CO2 emissions of just 103 g/km and a combined fuel consumption of 64.2 mpg without compromising the sporty feel that is a hallmark of the Suzuki DNA.
Notably, the Suzuki Alto offers eco-friendliness for an attractive price. Suzuki made a conscious decision not to incorporate costly technologies such as a hybrid powertrain. Therefore, the Suzuki Alto's affordability is a reflection of its compact-car expertise and of the extensive testing and refinement that the company conducted during the development programme. Never before has Suzuki offered such an affordable car with a comparable combination of low emissions, high fuel economy, and great design and performance.
The Suzuki Splash, which was launched last year, also reflects a focus on eco-friendly and economical motoring. Thanks to a development approach similar to the one adopted for the Suzuki Alto, it offers low CO2 emissions (119 g/km with a 1.0-litre petrol engine; 120 g/km with a 1.3DDiS diesel engine) and fuel consumption as low as 62.8 mpg. The result is a mini multipurpose vehicle with low emissions that is ideal for long-distance family trips.
With a view to achieving lower CO2 emissions, Suzuki is pursuing new environmental initiatives that include the development of engine auto stop/start systems and the application of intake-and-exhaust variable valve timing mechanisms to small vehicles. Through these initiatives, the company aims to reduce CO2 emissions to just 109 g/km for the 1.0-litre Suzuki Splash GLS model and 95 g/km for the Alto city car. Further to the environmental efforts made to date, Suzuki's goal is to achieve even greener motoring with the least amount of additional equipment and at a minimal increase in cost.
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