FRANKFURT Feb 2 Japanese carmaker Suzuki
has failed to post a profit for its European operations
in four years and cannot say when it will cease posting losses,
its regional chief told Germany's WirtschaftsWoche.
"2008 was the last time we were profitable - we haven't been
in the black ever since. If that continues for much longer than
I am in serious difficulties," said Suzuki Europe chief Takanori
The head of the Japanese carmaker, which is in arbitration
proceedings with erstwhile partner Volkswagen, aims
by 2016 to lift sales in Europe back up to 300,000 vehicles.
The magazine did not provide a current comparison figure.
According to data from the European auto industry
association ACEA, Suzuki sales fell 13.4 percent last year to
154,446 vehicles in the 27-member European Union as well as the
three European Free Trade Association countries -- Switzerland,
Iceland and Norway.
Its share of that market fell 10 basis points to 1.2
Suzuki operates a plant in Hungary, where it built roughly
155,000 cars in 2012 out of a possible capacity of 220,000 per
year, according to the magazine.
On a Suzuki Hungary website, the company has written that
capacity even reached 300,000 in 2008, following several years
of expansion. That very year it decided to return to building
cars only in two shifts, and made 1,200 employees redundant.
The Europe chief said he was not sure whether there would be
enough spare capacity to build Fiats and Opels
once the plant begins supplying markets in Australia, Africa and
South America as well.
"It could be close," he said. "I can't say whether there is
enough capacity to build the cars of our cooperation partners."
Fiat has the Sedici crossover built there off a Suzuki SX4
platform, while Opel and its UK sister Vauxhall have the Agila
manufactured there off a Suzuki Splash platform.
Both the Sedici and Agila are niche models for the two