Suzuki sold just 5041 cars across the country between January and April, down 33 per cent or 2493 vehicles compared with the first four months of 2013.
The Swift, which was the top-selling city car in November, limped to 2329 sales to the end of April, down 37 per cent compared with the same period in 2013, while the S-Cross sub-compact SUV has managed just 473 sales, leaving it trailing the eight-year-old SX4 it was introduced to replace.
Suzuki Australia general manager Tony Devers estimates restricted supply of the Swift – production of which recently switched from Thailand to Japan – and the new Hungarian-built S-Cross cost the Japanese brand more than 1800 combined sales in the first four months of the year.
“Normally our dealers carry about 1200 Swifts in stock per month and we [Suzuki Australia] carry about 1000-1200 as well,” Devers said.
“We normally carry two months’ stock. Between the two of us we’ve been down to about a half a month’s stock, so having the right models, the right colours… It just hasn’t been able to come to fruition. But with arrivals in May, we’re back in business.”
Suzuki Australia now has normal stock levels of Swift for the first time this year, and is in a positive stock position with S-Cross for the first time since its arrival in January.
“When we’re not wholesaling cars like Swift and S-Cross we don’t get revenue. It’s very difficult to spend money if you’re not earning money.
“Because we had no cars to wholesale through to March, we cut back a lot of our programs and advertising. I’m afraid this affected us across all our models. Our profile diminished and we just couldn’t match it with the competition.”
Devers admitted the bad start to 2014 would make beating last year’s sales result difficult, though said he and the brand enjoyed a challenge.
“We’re going to need to be more aggressive, which we plan to be,” he said.
“Whether we can catch up – it’s probably 600 cars a month we’ve lost – whether we can catch that up over the next eight months will depend on the market and how aggressive we go.
“That’ll be our aim, to hit our previous targets, but it’s a tough job.”
Suzuki sold 22,075 vehicles in 2013, and will need to average 2129 sales per month for the remainder of the year to match that mark in 2014.
The introduction of an updated Jimny equipped with ESC will provide a small boost in the final quarter of the year, though changes to the line-up will be minor until the arrival of the all-new Alto-replacing Celerio and iV-4 compact SUV in early 2015.
Devers said the brand plans to launch at least one new model every year for the next five years, including some into segments in which it does not currently compete.