Suzuki Motor Corp is optimistic about Japan’s minivehicle demand for 2002, according to Reuters.

“A figure of 1.9 million is not such a way-out figure,” Suziki motor chairman Osamu Suzuki told a press conference, the news agency said.

Reuters cited Suzuki saying that, assuming Mitsubishi and Mazda issued forecasts that at least match last year’s result, predictions by Japan’s main minivehicle sellers would amount to around 1.9 million vehicles.

But Reuters added that Suzuki’s optimistic outlook contrasts sharply with forecasts from industry associations and number two minivehicle maker Daihatsu which have forecast domestic demand at 1.83 million units in 2002, down from 1.85 million last year.

Suzuki has forecast that its own minivehicle sales would rise five percent in 2002 to 600,000 units, boosted by the introduction of a new youth-oriented model, the Alto Lapin, Reuters said.

The Reuters report cited Suzuki as saying that Nissan’s entry into the minivehicle market this year should expand vehicle demand rather than dilute the share of existing manufacturers.

However, Suzuki will supply the Nissan-badged vehicles to its rival. Japan’s top minicar maker is also building re-badged versions of its Wagon R mini-minivan for Mazda.