Interview / Suzuki Marine: "We want to grow in the semi-rigid"

Suzuki was a partner in the LH1000 S semi-rigid project of the Normandy Sailing League © Ligue de Voile de Normandie - Alexis Courcoux

Guillaume Vuillardot, who took over Suzuki Marine in 2018, reviews his first months and outlines his strategy for BoatIndustry readers.

Guillaume Vuillardot, who has been in charge of Suzuki's motorcycle business for several years, took over responsibility for the Marine business in the fall of 2018. He answered BoatIndustry's questions on the positioning of the outboard engine brand, its actions already launched and the future of Suzuki Marine.

What actions have you launched since your arrival in the Suzuki France marine branch?

I found a Marine activity that worked very well with 4500 engines sold during the year. However, I have of course brought my experience of motorcycling to work on several aspects. We work on processes, whether it is orders or contracts. The objective is to simplify things, for example in terms of our price list. We have halved the number of existing tariffs.

We have also clarified things in our distribution network. We now have 140 dealerships, but that's not the number that counts. Some do little business. The objective is to find new dealers in these areas.

Guillaume Vuillardot, Director of Suzuki Marine

In which markets does Suzuki Marine intend to strengthen in the coming years?

We are implementing a 5-year strategy, which is applied on a daily basis. Our first objective is to strengthen links with dealers, parallel distributors such as Cabesto and shipyards. The original equipment is a development area. Our outboard engines are now mainly mounted in OEM on rigid hulls, mainly because of our partnership with Bénéteau, but we also want to develop our business on semi-rigid and on smaller sites.

How do you see the market evolving towards high-powered outboards?

I think there are two trends. The United States is very much in demand for these high-powered outboard motors. This is less true in other markets. I will make the comparison with the automobile. For several years now, the engines have not been increasing in size, but rather we have been working on downsizing the engines to make them lighter and limit fuel consumption. Thus, we see the effects of work on the car. Our partner of the Normandy Sailing League has seen its fuel budget reduced by 30% on the same boats while using our Suzuki engines.

Suzuki 2x300 HP dual engine © Alexis Courcoux

The electric propulsion of boats is developing. Can you imagine Suzuki electric speedboats?

Suzuki engineers in Japan have been working on these topics for a long time in the automotive and motorcycle industries. We master the technologies. I think the question is therefore more a question of when Suzuki will consider it appropriate to go into this market.