TOKYO -- Suzuki Motor Corp. will add a small sport wagon to its U.S. lineup in late 2006.
The vehicle will be smaller than the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, two popular entries in the expanding sport wagon segment, the company says.
In addition, the company is looking at a hybrid car for the United States by 2010, says Hirotaka Ono, senior general manager of Suzuki's America and Europe marketing division. Hybrids use a gasoline engine and one or more electric motors to power the wheels.
The five-seat sport wagon with a 2.0-liter engine will debut at the New York auto show in April. Ono expects the all-wheel-drive vehicle will appeal mainly to men in their late 20s and 30s.
The car will be "an entry model to attract young customers," Ono says.
He expects to sell about 30,000 units in 2007 after the vehicle goes on sale in the fourth quarter.
Ono expects the sport wagon to help achieve an annual sales goal of 200,000 in 2007 in the United States, double this year's sales goal. In the first half of this year, Suzuki sold 42,014 units.
Suzuki already has said it will replace the XL-7 small SUV with a new SUV. In August 2006, Suzuki will start producing the vehicle with a 3.6-liter V-6 engine at the CAMI Automotive Inc. plant in Ingersoll, Ontario. CAMI is a joint venture of Suzuki and General Motors.
Suzuki will unveil the SUV at the Detroit auto show in January. A concept version of the vehicle, called the Concept-X, was shown in Detroit last January.
In other product news, Ono is looking at bringing the Swift small car back to the United States when it is redesigned.
The current Swift debuted in Europe this spring, so a redesign is several years off.
For Suzuki, which takes great pride in its thrift, a hybrid would be a big challenge. But strong U.S. demand for the fuel-saving technology is encouraging Ono. "Definitely, I'd like to do a hybrid," he says. "We have serious discussions about it."
He expects Suzuki to develop its own hybrid system, rather than procuring the technology from other automakers. Toyota is pitching its hybrid technology to other automakers.
In Japan, Suzuki's two-seat hybrid minicar, introduced in 2003, sold poorly and was pulled from the market this year.
You may e-mail Yuzo Yamaguchi at