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Suzuki aiming for 30% of minivehicle market

Kyodo, Bloomberg

Suzuki Motor Corp. said Tuesday it wants to secure a 30 percent share of the domestic minicar market in fiscal 2013 in the face of fierce competition from its rivals.

Suzuki’s share for minivehicles, with engines of 660cc or less, dropped below 30 percent in 2012 for the first time in 19 years. It lags behind Daihatsu Motor Co., which holds a 34.1 percent share of the market, while also facing increased competition from Honda Motor Co.

“Competition is intensifying, but we have been dedicated to minivehicles. We look to sell 580,000 units” in the next business year, Chairman Osamu Suzuki said at a news conference in Tokyo as the automaker unveiled its new Spacia minivehicle, one of the models the automaker is pinning its hopes on for the sales expansion.

The new model can run 29 km on 1 liter of gasoline thanks mainly to its lighter body compared with its predecessor, the Palette.

Meanwhile, Nissan Motor Co. Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn said Tuesday in Yokohama that demand for Japanese cars in China is “getting there” after declining last year because of anti-Japanese sentiment related to the Senkaku isle dispute.

The carmaker’s sales fell 5.3 percent in China, the world’s biggest vehicle market, last year.

Nissan is more affected than other Japanese carmakers by a slump in China because it sells about a quarter of its cars there.

Ghosn, who has called ¥100 to the dollar the “neutral” value for the Japanese currency, said the yen should weaken further.

The yen is “still far from neutral territory,” Ghosn told reporters.

Nissan, which gains about ¥20 billion in operating income for every ¥1 drop against the dollar, has shifted some production out of Japan because the currency held near its postwar high for the past two years.