2010 Suzuki Kizashi
It seems like Suzuki took the wraps off its new Kizashi sedan just last week (in fact, it was last month), but already rumors have begun circulating that the Kizashi is going hybrid. And soon.
According to reports in Japan's Nikkei newspaper, Suzuki plans to launch a hybrid variant of the Kizashi in the U.S. during the 2011 calendar year. The article suggests that Suzuki will use a hybrid system that the company developed in collaboration with General Motors. Until we hear otherwise, we'll assume that this will be a fairly conventional gas/electric setup, with the usual assortment of regenerative braking systems and so on. That's not to be dismissive of Suzuki's hybrid technology, but given the fact that nearly every major automaker has announced a hybrid variant in the past year, many of us are looking a bit further down the road to Suzuki and GM's development of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.
Whether or not a hybrid Kizashi will help Suzuki gain U.S. market share is up for debate. Suzuki's presence in North America is fairly minimal, especially when compared to other Japanese automakers like Toyota and Honda, so presumably there's nowhere for the brand to go but up. On the other hand, like most other Suzuki models, the Kizashi has received mixed reviews from the automotive press, due mostly to its humdrum styling. But who knows? Given the public's current interest in fuel economy and greener vehicles, maybe this will be the model that puts Suzuki on the map.