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The current-generation Suzuki Jimny has had its final year on sale in Australia at full capacity, with the Japanese brand set to cut back sales in 2017 ahead of an all-new model hitting showrooms in the near future.

It’s a move that will see Suzuki comply with a Voluntary Code of Practice from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries that requires the Japanese maker to limit the number of vehicles it sells without side airbag protection to 100 units.

Potentially life-saving front side airbag protection is absent from the Suzuki Jimny, which has been sold with only dual front airbags since way back in 2001. The small SUV is not offered with side airbags anywhere in the world, but this is a car that was engineered last millennium – it has been around since 1998 in its current guise, despite a few nips and tucks over that 18-year period.

According to the FCAI Submission to the Inquiry into aspects of road safety in Australia, auto brands can “meet both internal corporate standards and industry voluntary standards”, and that the FCAI has Codes of Practice covering the fitment of “head protecting side airbags”.

“Under the Code of Practice all FCAI member companies committed to supply passenger cars, passenger vans and passenger SUVs fitted with head protecting side airbags (HPSA) to the Australian market in accordance with the following timeframe … 100 per cent of sales [for] vehicles with a built date of 1 January 2016.”

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According to Andrew Moore, Suzuki Australia automobiles general manager, that will severely cut back the number of vehicles available next year.

“A while ago the FCAI did a voluntary code, that said that by 2016 all passenger vehicles will have curtain side airbags. What that meant was that any car that didn’t have them could only sell 100 units per year,” he said. “We don’t have any to supply – if it was built in 2015, we could still sell it. And we ordered extra [2015-built] cars to sell this year, but we didn’t order enough to get through even half of this year.

“We’ll order 100 more that will land in the first quarter of next year, and we will sell 100 units per year until we have a replacement for it,” he said.

“From a Suzuki global perspective, the Jimny is still sold in every other market in the world. It’s a key model in the line-up, so there’ll be a new version,” he said.

“We need side airbags – we’ve told the factory that – and the feedback I’ve had is that they’ve said we will have side and curtain airbags fitted [for the next-generation model],” he added.

Moore said he was personally upset at the outcome, but understands that it’s a process – and that it’s not forever.

“In 2015 we doubled the volume of Jimny sales. It’s been an amazing success for us in recent times. I’m devastated,” he said.

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The sales the Jimny has amassed so far in 2016 – a tally of 513 units to the end of November – is down 48.5 per cent compared to the same time last year.

“We will definitely bring in 100 cars as there is big demand,” Moore said of the Jimny’s limited sales potential in 2017.

Moore said he couldn’t say when the new model will make its debut. But given the brand’s aggressive product rollout over the past 18 months, it could be soon. A 2017 Tokyo motor show debut, perhaps…? We’ll see.

The Suzuki Jimny will be survived by its soft-roader siblings the Vitara and S-Cross, and its eldest and most capable kin, the Grand Vitara.

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