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Green light for Thai-built Suzuki Celerio

Little Suzy: Suzuki’s Celerio is set for Thai production from May, with the western markets version scheduled to roll off the production line in the second half of the year.

Suzuki Alto replacement set to go into production at Thai plant from May


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27 Mar 2014

SUZUKI Australia is one step closer to the local launch of its Alto micro car replacement, Celerio, with the formal announcement at the Bangkok motor show this week of Thai production start-up for May.

The five-door hatchback will become the first Thai-built Suzuki to be sold in this country, replacing the Indian-sourced Alto that has done duty here since 2009.

The first Celerios to be built at Suzuki’s Rayong plant near Bangkok will feed the ASEAN market, including Thailand, for the first few months.

Production of up-market “European-specification” models – which is expected include stock for Australia – will follow in the second half of the year, meaning the Celerio will launch here in the first quarter of 2015.

The Australian version will almost certainly get an upgraded 1.0-litre, three-cylinder engine destined for western markets, instead of the standard version earmarked for emerging markets.

While based on the current 50kW/90Nm engine in Alto, the new KC10 version gets a range of performance-enhancing and friction reducing tweaks – including dual fuel injectors, roller rockers and piston cooling jets – to improve both power and efficiency.

Although no power and torque figures have yet been provided for the revised engine, Suzuki says it will emit just 85 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre – a 20 per cent improvement over the Alto’s 107gm/km.

Two new transmissions will also be on offer – a five speed manual and an automated manual gearbox that is said to shift gears automatically while providing the efficiency of a manual.

Up to six airbags will be provided, along with ESC, hill holder and – possibly only on top models – tyre pressure monitoring. Boot capacity is said to be a best-in-in-class 245 litres.

The Celerio is already in production in India, where it went on sale alongside the larger Swift late last year.

Suzuki Motor Thailand is now ramping up its production capability to produce the Celerio at Rayong, which also has produced the Swift for ASEAN markets since 2012.

Announcing the move at the Bangkok show, Suzuki Motor Thailand president Takayuki Sugiyama said the Thai plant was realising its potential as a global production hub.

Until now, Altos sold in western markets, including Australia, have been exported from Suzuki’s joint-venture factory with Maruti, in Manesar, India.

Some of these export vehicles have been called Celerio – a name that will be adopted across all markets with the arrival of the new-generation car this year.

In Australia, the Celerio will be tasked with taking the fight up to Mitsubishi’ s dominant Mirage in the micro car segment.

While the aging Alto has only about 8.0 per cent of the segment’s sales, the Mirage has about 60 per cent.

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