Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC) is pursuing a world strategy designed for long-term growth. Following the launch of its acclaimed fourth world strategic model, the Splash, at the 2007 International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt, the company is developing the fifth exciting model in its strategy. It will be showing some of the forthcoming model's design themes at Auto Expo 2008 in New Delhi in the form of the Concept A-Star.
An Environment-conscious World Strategic Model
The forthcoming production model is an A-segment five-door hatchback reflecting a focus on world-class environmental compatibility and comfort. It will have a newly developed Euro 5-compliant 1.0-litre aluminium petrol engine with CO2 emissions lower than those of European competitors (target: lower than 109g/km). And like the already-launched Suzuki world strategic models, it will prove that sporty and exciting performance can be enjoyed together with outstanding fuel economy.
The new 1.0-litre aluminium engine will be produced by Maruti Suzuki India, and a manual transmission for it will be manufactured by Suzuki Powertrain India, an SMC subsidiary that's based beside Maruti Suzuki India's Manesar plant. Suzuki Powertrain India produces a 1.3-litre diesel engine, but SMC does not plan to use it in the new production car since the new 1.0-litre petrol engine environmentally generates the best result for this model configuration. SMC will study options for small diesel engines from Suzuki Powertrain India in future.
Suzuki's Commitment to India
Amid the rapid economic growth that India is enjoying as one of the BRIC nations, the Indian automobile market has doubled in size in recent years, growing from about 689,000 units in 2001 to about 1,367,000 units in 2006.
SMC attaches great importance to India. Having been early to recognize India's potential, it partnered with the Indian government to establish Maruti Udyog (now an SMC subsidiary named Maruti Suzuki India), whose Gurgaon plant began producing cars in December 1983, and it has since been an active investor. SMC's efforts have greatly contributed to the Indian motor industry's development and have earned SMC a more-than 50% share of the burgeoning Indian market for passenger cars.
Thanks to a quarter of a century of technological advances, personnel training, and adoption of superior production systems and quality standards, Maruti Suzuki India builds vehicles of world-class quality. Indeed, the company's Manesar plant was given a Nikkei"Monozukuri" Award by Japan's leading publisher of financial, business, and industry news in October 2007 in recognition of its technological advances (these include automatic systems for 70% of welding processes and 80% of painting processes) and Japanese-style quality control.
Given the importance of India to the Suzuki world strategy, SMC is investing ¥200 billion in Indian plants from 2007 to 2009. (This investment includes capital expenditure for production of the new world strategic model.) Also, it plans to expand Maruti Suzuki India's production capacity to 960,000 units per year by March 2010 in line with growing demand in India and a vision of exporting the new world strategic model from India to markets around the globe.
Further, Maruti Suzuki India is, thanks to transfers of automobile technology and know-how from SMC, distinguished by a research-and-development division that enables it to conduct specification development, technical adaptation, and tuning for the Indian market with SMC's guidance in addition to production of vehicles designed in Japan. SMC plans to devote investment in Maruti Suzuki India to expanding the research-and-development division into one that will play a key role in the Suzuki world strategy.
The Concept A-Star is the first concept car with which designers from Maruti Suzuki India's research-and-development division have been involved from the beginning of styling development. As such, it's an excellent showcase of Maruti Suzuki India's capabilities.
The production model that inherits some of the design themes of the Concept A-Star will be built at Maruti Suzuki India's Manesar plant and sold mainly in Europe but also in India and other countries. Production is due to start in October 2008. Full-scale production for Europe is due to start in December 2008 and will be followed by expansion for other markets around the world.
As a hint at the design of Suzuki's fifth world strategic car, the Concept A-Star has
SMC's fifth world strategic car is the second model in the second phase of our world strategy. The theme of this phase is families, so the design embodies a focus on delivering comfort and freedom to all family members. At the same time, it's faithful to the sporty spirit that's communicated by the Suzuki "Way of Life!" brand slogan. As the smallest of SMC's world strategic models, it also has excellent environmental credentials.
In the Concept A-Star, sportiness is embodied by styling in which dynamic-looking body contours communicate the Suzuki sports DNA and boldly flared fenders and extra-large wheels hint at strong dynamic capabilities. The styling includes pink accents that allude to the forthcoming production model's main target customers.
The Concept A-Star's design is the result of a collaboration between Japanese and Indian designers working under a Japanese chief designer. It has a predominantly European character that reflects an appreciation of the user-friendliness that's vital for families in Europe, but it incorporates Indian accents that emphasize the car's identity as Suzuki's first Japanese-Indian concept vehicle.
A chassis that enables lively handling is combined with a body that's compact enough for manoeuvrability around town but amply sized for a city car. Also, the Concept A-Star has aerodynamically efficient body contours and a high-efficiency 1.0-litre engine for outstanding fuel economy. Overall, the Concept A-Star shows that environmental compatibility and safety can be delivered with no sacrifice in style and performance.
The Concept A-Star's exterior design theme is "a smart, active, and fun-to-drive vehicle". This theme is reflected in hand-crafted details, in expressions of Japanese and Indian culture, and in an elegantly sculpted body with slick surfaces.
In the front view, a large, floating-look grille is complemented by a translucent crossmember in which a logo of the car's name illuminates together with the headlamps, creating a look of lightness. Ornate headlamps with pink paisley accents combine with the grille and other elements to create a uniquely expressive front face. Below the headlamps are fog lamps whose shape reflects cultural motifs. And at the bottom edge, two staggered aerodynamic fins convey a sense of dynamism.
Seen from the side, the Concept A-Star is distinguished by a high metal-to-glass ratio, a teardrop roof line, and flared wheel arches, which together convey a sense of dynamism even when the car is stationary. The body panels have sculpted forms that create an eye-catching interplay of light and shadow, and outside rearview mirrors highlight the daylight opening, drawing the attention of onlookers to the driver inside. Alloy wheels with gently curving spokes are positioned in the extreme corners of the platform for a look of stability.
At the rear, two pairs of arched lamps combine traditional motifs with an element of surprise. (One of the pairs of lamps is distinguishable only when illuminated.) An unconventional high-mount stop lamp has a Suzuki "S" badge embedded in it like a jewel. Nearer the bottom edge, integrated dual exhaust tailpipes and a rear diffuser convey a sense of performance.
The interior design theme is "giving the user a captivating and exhilarating driving experience". The design communicates sportiness and friendliness through floating-look elements, convex surfaces, sweeping lines, and pink illumination. And throughout the cabin, materials, textures, shapes, and colours are combined in ways that evoke an emotional high.
The most significant interior design feature is a sleek, wing-like instrument panel. A recess below the instrument panel creates a look of lightness and space, and pink lighting in the recess makes the instrument panel look as though it's floating. A translucent hood over the speedometer complements the floating look.
A central liquid-crystal display with audio, climate, and navigation controls adds to the driver's excitement. The steering wheel incorporates controls for the liquid-crystal display, turn signals, headlamps, and wipers. And the gear knob, the engine-start button, and the base of the gearshift lever are designed to add touches of sportiness.
Also, a sporty, dynamic character is communicated by black leather seats with pink trim accents, by long, sweeping curves on the door trim, and by aluminium pedals with functional graphics.
|Vehicle type:||Concept car|
|Powertrain layout:||Front engine, front-wheel drive|
|Seating capacity:||4 persons|
|Tyres and wheels:||205/45R17 tyres; alloy wheels|
|Engine model:||New K10B (3-cylinder, inline, 996cm3 petrol)|
|Body colour:||Sleek Silver Metallic|
|Safety:||SRS front dual airbags and SRS side airbags
Front and rear ventilated disc brakes
Antilock braking system with electronic brake-force distribution ESP®*
*ESP is a registered trademark of Daimler AG.