Suzuki Strong in Land of No Stop Lights
from the Kingdom of Bhutan
Suzuki has proven that it has the right vehicles for the unique Bhutan market. The Kingdom of Bhutan, at the eastern end of the Himalayan mountain range, is a land of high mountains, swift rivers and deep valleys. To preserve the kingdom’s rich geographical and cultural heritage, Bhutan developed the concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH) emphasizing the happiness of the people rather than economic growth. For example, Bhutanese have avoided tunnelling on their many roads that hug the steep mountain sides. With no rail lines, public transportation is limited to buses and taxis and there are no traffic lights in the entire nation. In urban areas uniformed police officers are stationed in colourfully decorated kiosks directing vehicles with smooth hand signals as drivers navigate the roundabouts.
As the kingdom’s road network expands, the need for reliable and fuel efficient transportation that is environmentally friendly has become paramount. In order to minimize the effect of particulate matter on air quality, Bhutan’s government has prohibited the import of used cars and taxis must be no older than eight years. Given these regulatory demands, it is no surprise that 90% of all taxis are ALTO, CELERIO or WAGON R, all Suzuki models. And in the important and rapidly growing personal transportation market, a market roughly 10 times the size of the taxi market, Suzuki is also popular. In 2020 Suzuki’s popularity allowed capture of almost 50% of the total market.
Since potential customers sometimes live and work far from any showroom, Suzuki representatives often travel to arrange exhibitions around the kingdom to approach buyers in their own towns and villages. These days, whether they foreign tourists hopping into a taxi to visit one of Bhutan’s spectacular sites or a proud family visiting friends or relatives in their new car, there is a good chance they are riding in a Suzuki vehicle.