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Suzuki Motor Corp. launched sales Thursday of the new MR Wagon minivehicle after its first full remodeling in five years gave it a new engine and continuously variable transmission.

The new MR Wagon is more fuel-efficient, at 25.5 km per liter, up 16 percent from the previous model, and comes with a touch-panel audio system aimed at attracting customers in their 20s, the company said.

The annual sales target for the remodeled version, which is priced between ¥1.13 million and ¥1.51 million and qualifies for the government’s green car tax incentive, is set at 36,000 units.

“Small, light and fuel-efficient cars will lead the generation,” said Osamu Suzuki, company president and chairman, at a press conference.

Liability premiums JIJI A government panel said Thursday premiums will be raised for compulsory automobile liability insurance by 11.7 percent in fiscal 2011, the first hike in four years.

The premiums are set to be raised a further 15 percent in fiscal 2013, which would bring the combined increase to about 27 percent.

The Compulsory Automobile Liability Insurance Council, which advises the financial services minister, approved the premiums for fiscal 2011, which begins in April. The premiums were presented by the Non-Life Insurance Rating Organization of Japan.

For fiscal 2011, the premium for two years of coverage for private cars will rise by ¥2,480 to ¥24,950, excluding Okinawa and remote islands.

Likewise, the premium will increase by ¥2,990 to ¥21,970 for minicars, and by ¥710 to ¥14,110 for motorcycles.

In fiscal 2008, the advisory panel cut the premiums to their present levels, reflecting a drop in fatal traffic accidents and rising returns on asset investments.

But the profitability of the compulsory auto liability insurance business has been declining with an unexpected rise in benefit payments due to a surge in serious accidents.

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