The Hungarian plant of Suzuki Motor Corp has begun building prototypes of a new small car code-named YM6, the first milestone in a project worth over 60bn-forints ($US250m) that will launch output of two new vehicles and two engines before 2005, writes Ryan Tutak.


Magyar Suzuki Rt (MS), based roughly 40km northwest of Budapest in Esztergom, started assembling the models on 30 November 2002 with plans to make 32 units this year.


The vehicle (similar to Suzuki Ignis, yet still officially unnamed) is scheduled to enter mass production in March 2003, but delays may force a return to a previous target of May 2003.


MS, which is investing 16bn forints to introduce YM6, still forecasts output of the vehicle at 25,000 in March-to-September 2003, then 50,000 in 2004 (the annual capacity target).


Parallel to the car rollout, the Esztergom factory plans to start assembling a pair of petrol engines via kits from Japan: M13E/G (1.3 litres) and M15 (1.5 litres). Output, slated for 50,000 a year, will mainly serve YM6, but volumes also could feed another model already built in Hungary – Wagon R+. (Motor production might be deferred until August 2003, if the introduction of YM6 is strained.)


To serve growing demand for oil-burning engines, MS plans to fit YM6 with 1.251-litre, 16-valve diesel motors from Fiat Auto Powertrain Polska Sp z oo in Bielsko-Biala, Poland. (This plant is a subsidiary of Fiat-GM Powertrain BV, a 50/50 venture between Fiat Auto SpA and General Motors Corp.) MS’s annual orders of these engines, featuring multijet common-rail fuel injection, eventually could top 18,000 for all its models.


A 1.0-litre petrol engine from Suzuki in Japan also should be available for YM6 (likely 20cm longer than Ignis). The car’s main competitors are expected to be Fiat Punto and Ford Fiesta.


Roughly 10,000 units a year will be made with four-wheel drive, partly for Subaru.


But the biggest element in MS’s expansion is YN2, code-name for another small car, expected to resemble closely Concept-S, a model unveiled by Suzuki at Mondial de l’Automobile in Paris (26 September to 13 October 2002).


The Hungarian plant expects to invest around 30bn forints to launch YN2, a five-seater designed to be cheaper and smaller than YM6. YN2 should weigh 900kg-1050kg, while running on petrol engines of 1.2 litres and 1.5 litres. Concept-S, 3650mm long and 1730mm wide, had a 1.6-litre motor with sequential transmission plus permanent four-wheel drive.


While meeting 200 suppliers in Budapest on 3 September 2002, Suzuki executives said YN2 would be a “world car” with MS designated the main plant; annual capacity would be 100,000 in Hungary and 50,000 in Japan with output jointly inaugurated in December 2004. (Japan is now to start in August 2004.) Production would follow in China and India, the officials said without mentioning timetables or volumes.



(Exchange rate: $1 = 239.55 forints.)


Contact Ryan James Tutak, associate editor of just-auto.com for Eastern Europe:
rjt@pronet.hu
F  +36-1 / 317-7257
T  +36-1 / 266-2693