The stranglehold of ever tightening European Union emissions regulations has claimed another automotive icon with the popular Suzuki Jimny put out to pasture earlier than expected.
With its relatively unsophisticated 1.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine, Suzuki's loveable 4x4 will bow out of Europe before the end of the year, despite strong sales.
Its axing has been on the table for some time, but that timeline has been brought forward following a new EU ruling that all new cars must emit no more than 95 grams of CO2 per kilometre.
The emissions rules, which came into force this month, are causing headaches for a number of manufacturers selling in Europe, with the Japanese maker of the Jimny the latest to fall afoul of them.
Some exceptions are made for small-volume manufacturers such as Ferrari, which sells relatively few cars in comparison to volume manufacturers, but Suzuki, on the whole, isn't small enough to save the Jimny.
Counting against the Jimny is its CO2 emissions of just over 150g/km matched to its petite 1135kg heft, which makes it more difficult for it to reach an EU acceptable target.
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Despite a growing number of 48-volt mild-hybrid versions of its cars, including the Swift Sport, S-Cross and Vitara, going on sale in Europe (providing valuable credits towards its overall fleet emissions), the diminutive Suzuki doesn't sell sufficient cars - and had no choice but to remove the Jimny from market.
Somewhat ironically, small city cars are also adversely affected by the new rules. Operating on razor-thin profit margins, it's difficult for a car company to balance the cost of adding hybrid technology to a compact city car while still maintaining an affordable price point.
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It’s an unfortunate set of circumstances; Suzuki has enjoyed considerable commercial success for the model both in Europe and the UK, and it's still a big hit in Australia. Waiting lists for the new Suzuki Jimny can stretch out for months, particularly in the UK where examples are being traded at well over the RRP.
There is a glimmer of hope that the Jimny nameplate may return to Europe once again in commercial ‘N1’ guise, which could theoretically be sold in smaller numbers than its regular passenger-carrying counterpart, but no confirmation has been given.
An N1 Jimny is designed for the agricultural sector, and would likely be sold without a rear seat.
A non-factory ute version of the Jimny is sold in New Zealand.
This does raise an interesting question for other markets which will, no doubt, want to snap up the extra allocation of cars, should Suzuki allow it.
The question of whether we’ll see more build slots open up quicker here has been put to Suzuki Australia and the story will be updated with its response.