Bangkok - Suzuki Motor (Thailand) on Wednesday launched a new version of its Swift compact model under a Thai government programme to promote local manufacture of fuel-efficient vehicles.
Suzuki Motor Corp's Executive Vice President Toshi Hiro said three versions of the eco-Swift will be available on the Thai market at prices ranging from 469,000 baht to 559,000 baht (15,370 dollars to 18,328 dollars), inexpensive by Thai standards.
The launch of the model, designed to run more than 20 kilometres per litre of fuel, followed a similar launch by Mitsubishi Motors Thailand of its new Mirage model on Tuesday.
Five Japanese automobile manufacturers won tax privileges to design and produce compact, fuel-efficient passenger cars for the domestic and export market.
Nissan Motor Corp was the first to produce a Thai-made eco car, the March, in 2010, before Honda Motor Co Ltd launched its competing Brio last year.
While Nissan's March has enjoyed sales averaging 3,000 units a month in Thailand, the launch of the Brio was dogged by the mass floods that inundated the Honda factory in central Thailand in October, halting operations for months.
The factory is scheduled to re-open on March 31. Honda on Wednesday denied news reports that the flood had led it to shift its major production hub from Thailand to Indonesia, where it has been investing.
"The plan for the Indonesian expansion was in place well before the flood," the company said in a statement.
The Jakarta plant, which aims to supply the Indonesian demand for small cars, would, however, produce an Indonesian version of the Brio instead of importing cars produced in Thailand.
Toyota is expected to launch a new compact model for the Thai market by year-end 2012.
Manufacturers of low-emission vehicles enjoy reduced excise taxes in Thailand if they meet government requirements on fuel consumption, safety standards, engine size and production levels.
All models must meet European safety standards.
Thailand designed the programme to attract new investment to its automotive industry, the world's second-largest producer and exporter of 1-ton pickup trucks.
The eco-car is designed for urban, cost-conscious customers.
Under the programme, manufacturers must produce at least 100,000 units anually by their fifth year of operation.