2 Million Yen Suzuki Swift Plug-in Hybrid in 2013 – Plans Leaked by MSN Japan

Posted by Stephen On Saturday, October 15th, 2011

Oops! Looks like someone clicked the “publish” button before they were supposed to on this one: A story on MSN Japan that has since been removed has revealed Suzuki’s plans to introduce a plug-in hybrid that uses a kei car 660 cc ICE engine in Japan in 2013.

Snippets of the story were still visible on Google search and Google News:

Suzuki plug-in hybrid plants MSN story snippet in Google search

However, clicking on the link in the search results would take you to this page, with the following “Page Not Found” message:

MSN page not found messsage in Japanese

Fortunately, some Japanese websites had already picked up the story, and it seemed to be creating quite a buzz among Japanese users. This site, for example, had already received 57 comments in less than 2 hours after the story was posted.

So what is this news that has blogs a-buzzing in Japan?

Well, Suzuki is aiming at bringing a plug-in hybrid to market sporting a 660 cc ICE engine of the type that is usually found in kei cars in Japan, and is aiming to do all this for a price that is in the 2 million Yen ($25,850) range sometime in 2013. This will put it in head-to-head competition with Toyota’s new Aqua, as well as current models such as the Honda Fit Hybrid. However, being a plug-in, and having a smaller internal combustion engine than either of these two cars, it would be reasonable to guess that it will be able to achieve superior gas mileage.

This new model is being developed by Suzuki internally, without reliance on their former technology partner, VW. The car itself will be based on Suzuki’s Swift model and be able to travel up to 30 km on power stored in the lithium ion battery pack alone. Once this power starts to run out, the ICE engine will kick in to generate electricity, recharging the battery and providing energy for the electric motor to propel the car. In this respect the hybrid arrangement has more in common with the Chevrolet Volt than with Toyota’s Prius.

Although Suzuki is planning on using a 660cc kei car engine to power the generator, they are also considering drawing on their motorbike division and are studying the feasibility of using a bike engine. This latter option is also the approach being considered by BMW for its range-extended city car, so it seems like a reasonable approach.

Suzuki may seem to be a bit lagging in the plug-in hybrid market with rivals Toyota and Honda both getting ready to launch models in 2012. However, these PHVs will be in the 3 million Yen ($38,775) price range, so if Suzuki can keep to its 2 million Yen target and achieve better fuel economy, it is still going make quite a splash – even if it is a year late to the ball.

Sources: MSN, 2ch-news

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