Its been a sordid period for Naza Group which was known in the industry as a respectable marque car franchisor, however after losing two of its most prominent franchise models- Peugeot and Kia, many observers were wondering if the group was exiting the automotive business altogether. But that does not seem to be the case with the latest announcement, having left the country- Suzuki cars will soon by plying the highways once again under a new importer, Naza has confirmed the franchise and will be placing the brand under Naza Eastern Motors Sdn Bhd.
SM Nasarudin SM Nasimuddin, Group Executive Chairman/CEO, Naza Corporation Holdings said, “It brings us great honour to be able to work with a Japanese automotive giant that successfully captured the hearts of Malaysian consumers during its years in the Malaysian market” For the earlier generation, Suzuki cars were notably a top selling Japanese vehicle sold and distributed by the Lion Group under Tan Sri William Cheng, however that collaboration ended after sales for the vehicles started declining.
Naza on the other hand had been growing its vehicle franchise in the early 2000’s becoming the nations biggest automotive player rivaling Proton at that time, the group has its own assembly plant and at one point considered to receive the title as makers of national cars. Due to internal instability, the group started losing focus and lose a substantial market share in the mid-car segment, competition became stiff and eventually lost both franchise to Berjaya Group owned Bernaz which operates the Mazda brand in Malaysia.
Suzuki, although not a marque brand here, it was a popular make and preferred by many younger users in the past, if Naza is serious in capturing back the lost market, its essential how the group prices the CBU variants and if it has long term plans for CKD options. This will have to be considered if the brand is to survive the onslaught of Perodua, Proton and the incumbent Japanese brands like Toyota and Honda who have been occupying all segments of the market with a tight grip.
However, details are sketchy on the prospect for now, Suzuki has done extremely well in India with similar collaboration but to replicate in Malaysia with Naza Group does not appear to be the case. Such plans will require massive investment with joint venture agreement in place, its noted that the current deal with Naza is more of a franchise and distributorship.