Bedford Suzuki likely
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RUMOURS of a joint micro van venture between Bedford and Suzuki continue to circulate, following the latest news from Japan that the two companies intend to collaborate on commercial vehicle production.
According to the influential Japanese industrial newspaper Nippon Tokyo Kogya Shimbun Suzuki is to sign a joint production agreement with Bedford around June or July, with the aim of starting vehicle assembly work in spring 1986.
Suzuki has predicted that 10,000 vehicles will be built in the first year.
Both Bedford and Suzuki have declined to elaborate on the proposed deal, although the most likely vehicle to come out of any joint venture is a Suzukidesigned microvan built at Luton using a high degree of local content, and badged as a Bedford. A UK-built, Japanese derived microvan based on the existing Suzuki ST90 range would allow Bedford to circumvent the current import quota restrictions on the three major Japanese importers — Honda, Daihatsu and Suzuki — which have a monopoly of the UK microvan market.
General Motors, Bedford's parent company also has a five per cent share in Suzuki.
Bedford's general manager, J. T. Sattenberg Ill says the company is "very excited about microvans, and has been looking at the market very closely. It is restricted so far, but we do see it as a very strong potential growth area."