American Suzuki Motor Corp. will expand its U.S. lineup this fall with a pair of GM Daewoo Auto & Technology Co. (GMDAT) vehicles, a Suzuki spokesperson tells Ward’s.

Plans include a GMDAT-based 5-door wagon that will be unveiled at April’s New York Auto Show and launch in the market around the same time as Suzuki’s upcoming compact Reno hatchback, also to be supplied by GMDAT and shown in January at the Detroit auto show. (See related story: Suzuki Debuts Tuner Reno Concept)

Suzuki’s 5-door wagon launch (above) will coincide with introduction of Reno hatchback.

The new wagon and the Reno will push Suzuki’s GMDAT vehicle count to four. Suzuki launched a pair of GMDAT sedans – Verona and Forenza – late last year, adding to its lean existing vehicle lineup, which at the time included only the Vitara and XL7 SUVs and the Aerio small car. With the two new cars coming later this year, Suzuki will have seven models for sale in the U.S. by the end of 2004.

The addition of the Verona and Forenza is paying dividends in the new year.

In 2003, Suzuki delivered 58,438 vehicles, down 14% from 67,855 in 2002. However, through February, Suzuki has posted two consecutive monthly increases over like-2003, and sales are up 40.1% year to date thanks in part to 3,875 combined deliveries of Veronas and Forenzas.

Still, at its current pace, Suzuki will fall 5,800 units short of its 2002 sales mark in 2004.

In addition to the two new GMDAT vehicles coming in 2004, Suzuki is planning to build a vehicle in Canada in place of the Vitara “in the very near future,” according to Hirotaka Ono, a board member and senior general manager at Suzuki Motor Corp. in Japan.

The vehicle would be built at CAMI Automotive Inc. in Ingersoll, Ont., which is jointly owned by Suzuki and General Motors Corp. Currently, GM is building some 100,000 Chevrolet Equinox compact cross/utility vehicles annually at CAMI, utilizing only 60% of plant capacity. (See related story: Equinox Gives CAMI Morale Boost)

By 2007, Suzuki hopes to sell 200,000 vehicles per year in the U.S., as prescribed by its “357” turnaround plan. In order to do so, Suzuki aims to boost its U.S dealer count from 488 in 2003 to 600 by next year, in addition to injecting even more, yet-to-be-announced vehicles in its lineup.

jstoll@primediabusiness.com