The Nihon Keizai Shimbun reports that Suzuki Motor plans to develop hybrid vehicles with General Motors and market them in North America around 2009. The two automakers reportedly are considering developing sport utility vehicles with engine displacements of approximately 3 liters.
Suzuki’s sales in the US are up 37% this year compared to 2005, driven largely by sales of its re-designed 2.7-liter Grand Vitara SUV (sold as the Escudo in Japan). In May, the Grand Vitara posted 2,358 units sold, compared to 323 the year before. For the first five months of this year, Suzuki has sold 12,314 units of the Grand Vitara, up from 2,189 for the same period in 2005.
In April, at the New York International Auto Show, Suzuki announced that its 2007 XL-7 SUV would be bigger and more powerful than its predecessor, and use a new 3.6-liter engine co-developed with GM. The new 2007 XL-7 is based on the GM Theta platform.
GM cut its stake in Suzuki from 20% to 3% in March, but the partnership continues in such areas as joint production in North America.
GM currently has two hybrid architectures it is applying to SUVs: the full two-mode hybrid under development that will appear first in select models of its full-size SUV line-up, and the mild-hybrid enhanced-BAS architecture applied to the Saturn VUE Green Line, due to go on sale later this year.