Suzuki Motor Corporation (Suzuki Kabushikigaisha) is a Japanese multinational corporation that specializes in manufacturing compact automobiles, a full range of motorcycles, All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs), outboard marine engines, wheelchairs and a variety of other small internal combustion engines. Suzuki is the 12th largest automobile manufacturer in the world, employs over 45,000 people, has 35 main production facilities in 23 countries and 133 distributors in 192 countries.
In 1909, Michio Suzuki founded the Suzuki Loom Company in the small seacoast village of Hamamatsu, Japan. Business boomed as Suzuki built weaving looms for Japan's giant silk industry. Suzuki's only desire was to build better, more user-friendly looms. In 1929, Michio Suzuki invented a new type of weaving machine, which was exported overseas. Suzuki filed as many as 120 patents and utility model rights. For the first 30 years of the company's existence, its focus was on the development and production of these exceptionally complex machines.
Despite the success of his looms, Suzuki realized his company had to diversify and he began to look at other products. Based on consumer demand, he decided that building a small car would be the most practical new venture. The project began in 1937, and within two years Suzuki had completed several compact prototype cars. These first Suzuki motor vehicles were powered by a then-innovative, liquid-cooled, four-stroke, four-cylinder engine. It featured a cast aluminum crankcase and gearbox and generated 13 horsepower from a displacement of less than 800cc.
With the onset of World War II, production plans for Suzuki's new vehicles were halted when the government declared civilian passenger cars a "non-essential commodity." At the conclusion of the war, Suzuki went back to producing looms. Loom production was given a boost when the U.S. government approved the shipping of cotton to Japan. Suzuki's fortunes brightened as orders began to increase from domestic textile manufacturers. But the joy was short-lived as the cotton market collapsed in 1951.
Faced with this colossal challenge, Suzuki's thoughts went back to motor vehicles. After the war, the Japanese had a great need for affordable, reliable personal transportation. A number of firms began offering "clip-on" gas-powered engines that could be attached to the typical bicycle. Suzuki's first two-wheel ingenuity came in the form of a motorized bicycle called, the "Power Free." Designed to be inexpensive and simple to build and maintain, the 1952 Power Free featured a 36cc two-stroke engine. An unprecedented feature was the double-sprocket gear system, enabling the rider to either pedal with the engine assisting, pedal without engine assist, or simply disconnect the pedals and run on engine power alone. The system was so ingenious that the patent office of the new democratic government granted Suzuki a financial subsidy to continue research in motorcycle engineering. And so was born Suzuki Motor Corporation.
In 1953, Suzuki scored the first of countless racing victories when the tiny 60cc "Diamond Free" won its class in the Mount Fuji Hill Climb.
By 1954, Suzuki was producing 6,000 motorcycles per month and had officially changed its name to Suzuki Motor Co., Ltd. Following the success of its first motorcycles, Suzuki created an even more successful automobile: the 1955 Suzulight. Suzuki showcased its penchant for innovation from the beginning. The Suzulight included front-wheel drive, four-wheel independent suspension and rack-and-pinion steering -- features common on cars half a century later.
American Suzuki headquarters is located in Brea, California. Through an agreement with General Motors, Suzuki began selling a version of their Suzuki Cultus in United States as the Chevrolet Sprint in 1985. This model was initially sold as a 3-door hatchback and would be Chevrolet's smallest model.
The Samurai was also introduced in 1985 for the 1986 model year and was the first car introduced to the United States by the newly created American Suzuki Corp. No other Japanese company sold more cars in the United States in its first year than Suzuki. The Samurai was available as a convertible or hardtop and the company slogan was Never a Dull Moment. The Samurai was successful until Consumer Reports noticed that the Samurai was susceptible to roll over in a 1988 test.
In 1989, American Suzuki introduced the Swift which was the 2nd generation Suzuki Cultus. The Swift was available as a GTi and GLX hatchback with a 4-door sedan following in 1990. A new small SUV called the Sidekick was also introduced in 1989. 1991 saw the introduction of the 4-door Suzuki Sidekick, the first 4-door mini-SUV in North America. The Swift and Sidekick were cousins to GM's Geo Metro and Geo Tracker and were mostly produced in Ingersoll, Canada by Suzuki and GM's joint venture, CAMI. The Swift GT/GTi and 4-door models were imported from japan. Bad publicity from Consumer Reports of the Suzuki Samurai led to some temporary setbacks at American Suzuki as annual sales in the following years dropped to below 20,000 units.
In 1995, American Suzuki introduced the Esteem and redesigned the Swift. The Swift GT was dropped and this version Swift was specific only to North America where it was built at CAMI. These models were the first Suzuki vehicles to be marketed in North America with dual front airbags. A stationwagon version of the Esteem was introduced in 1996. Worldwide Suzuki production reached more than 975,000 cars this year.
Also in 1996, American Suzuki released the 2-door SUV X-90 and a revised Sidekick Sport model with dual airbags, a 120hp 1.8-liter engine, 16" wheels and two-tone paint. The Sidekick was replaced by the Vitara and the Grand Vitara for 1999. The Grand Vitara would be Suzuki's first model with a V6-cylinder engine and available 4-wheel ABS brakes.
The Grand Vitara XL-7 was introduced in 2001 as a stretched version of the Grand Vitara. The Grand Vitara XL-7 had a larger 2.7 liter V6-cylinder engine and 3-row seating. This would be Suzuki's largest vehicle to date and the first compact SUV to offer 3-row seating.
The Swift was dropped from the model lineup in 2001 and the Esteem was replaced in 2002 by the new Aerio. The Aerio was offered as a 4-door sedan and 5-door crossover with 4-wheel-drive as an option.
In 2004, General Motors and Suzuki jointly purchased the bankrupt Daewoo Motors renaming the venture GMDAT. American Suzuki rebadged the compact Daewoo Nubira/Daewoo Lacetti as the Forenza and the mid-size Daewoo Magnus as the Verona. The Forenza gained stationwagon and hatchback body style in 2005, with the hatchback sold under the Reno name.
2006 was the first year American Suzuki sold more than 100,000 vehicles in the United States. Suzuki redesigned the Grand Vitara in 2006 as well as introduced the all-new Suzuki SX4 and Suzuki XL7 in 2007. The Suzuki SX4 is produced as a joint venture with Fiat S.p.A. and the Suzuki XL7 (notice the shortening of the name from Grand Vitara XL-7) is produced as a joint venture with General Motors at CAMI Automotive Inc. in Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada.
• 1910 - Suzuki Loom Works founded in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, by Michio Suzuki.
• 1920 - Reorganized, incorporated, and capitalized at 500,000 yen as Suzuki Loom Manufacturing Co. with Michio Suzuki as president.
• 1952 - 'Power Free' motorized bicycle marketed.
• 1954 - Company name changed to Suzuki Motor Co.,Ltd.
• 1955 - Lightweight car 'Suzulight' (360cc, 2-stroke) marketed helping to usher in Japan's light-weight car age.
• 1961 - Suzuki Loom Manufacturing Co. established by separating the loom machine division from the motor works and lightweight truck 'Suzulight Carry' marketed.
• 1962 - Suzuki won the 50cc class championship at the Isle of Man (U.K.)
• 1963 - U.S. Suzuki Motor Corp., a direct sales subsidiary, opened in Los Angeles.
• 1965 - 'D55' (5.5hp, 2-stroke) outboard motor marketed and makes early inroads and Fronte 800 marketed.
• 1967 - Thai Suzuki Motor Co., Ltd. established as a local assembly plant.
• 1968 - Carry full-cab van marketed.
• 1970 - LJ-Series 4X4 marketed.
• 1971 - GT750 motorcycle marketed.
• 1973 - Suzuki Canada Ltd., opened in Ontario, Canada.
• 1974 - P.T. Suzuki Indonesia Manufacturing established in Jakarta, Indonesia, entry into medical equipment field by marketing the Suzuki Motor Chair Z600 motorized wheelchair, expansion into the housing field initiated with Suzuki Home marketing two models of prefab 'Mini-House' and three types of storage sheds.
• 1975 - Antonio Suzuki Corp., a joint venture for knockdown production and sales, established in Manila, the Philippines.
• 1976 - GS-Series motorcycles marketed.
• 1977 - LJ80 4x4 vehicle marketed and exports of GS1000H motorcycle began.
• 1979 - Alto marketed.
• 1979 - SC100 marketed in the UK.
• 1980 - Suzuki Australia Pty. Ltd. established in Sydney, Australia and entry into general purpose engine field by marketing three electric power generator models.
• 1981 - Business ties with General Motors (U.S.) and Isuzu Motors, Ltd.(Japan) signed.
• 1982 - 4X4 production began at PAK Suzuki Motor Co., Ltd. in Karachi, Pakistan and won maker championship for 7th consecutive year at the World Road Race Grand Prix 500.
• 1982 - SC100 Discontinued in favour of Alto.
• 1983 - Cultus/Swift 1.0-liter passenger car marketed and 4X4 production started at Maruti Udyog Ltd. in New Delhi, India.
• 1984 - Suzuki New Zealand Ltd. established in Wanganui, New Zealand and began export of Chevrolet Sprint to the United States. Car production technical assistance contract signed with China National Aerotechnology Import & Export Beijing Corporation. Operation of Suzuki Motor GmbH Deutschland began in Heppenheim,Germany.
• 1985 - SUZUKI of AMERICA AUTOMOTIVE CORP. established with the introduction of the Samurai, and the sensational GSX-R750 motorcycle with an oil-cooled engine marketed and scooter production started at Avello S.A. of Spain. Agreement with Santana Motors to to produce Suzuki cars in their Linares factory in Andalusia, Spain.
• 1986 - American Suzuki Motor Corp. is formed merging U.S. Suzuki Motor Corp and Suzuki of America Automotive Corp.
• 1987 - Cultus/Swift production began in Colombia and total aggregate car exports reached 2 million units.
• 1988 - Escudo/Vitara 4x4 marketed and total aggregate car production reached 10 million units.
• 1989 - CAMI Automotive Inc. established and began operation in Ontario, Canada. Swift GT/GLX and Sidekick sales begin in the United States.
• 1990 - Corporate name changed to Suzuki Motor Corporation.
• 1991 - Car production started in Korea through technical ties with Daewoo Shipbuilding & Heavy Machinery Ltd and Cappuccino 2-seater marketed.
• 1993 - Passenger car production/sales began at Suzuki Egypt S.A.E., opening ceremony for new car production plant held at Magyar Suzuki Corp. in Esztergom, Hungary and Wagon R passenger car marketed.
• 1994 - Maruti Udyog Ltd. of India total aggregate car production reached 1 million units.
• 1995 - Total aggregate motorcycle export reached 20 million units
• 1996 - Start of production in Vietnam (Motorcycles and automobiles)
• 1997 - Achieved 10 million cumulative automobile sales for overseas market and 4-stroke outboard motors win the Innovation Award at The International Marine Trade Exhibit and Conference (IMTEC) in Chicago.
• 1998 - Suzuki and General Motors form strategic alliance and Chongqing Changan Suzuki Automobile Co., Ltd. received official approval from the Chinese government for production of passenger cars.
• 1999 - Aggregate motorcycle production reaches 40 million units and Jiangxi Changhe Suzuki Automobile Co., Ltd. receives official approval from the Chinese government for production of commercial vehicles.
• 2000 - The company commemorates the 80th anniversary, aggregate car production at Kosai Plant reaches 10 million units and Suzuki production starts at General Motors de Argentina S.A.
• 2001 - Aggregate worldwide sales of SJ-Series reaches 2 million units, production of Alto reaches 4 million units and Suzuki achieves "Zero-Level" target of landfill waste
• 2002 - Achieved 30 million cumulative automobile sales for worldwide market and America's #1 warranty: 100,000/7-year powertrain limited warranty.
• 2003 - Suzuki is #1 in Keicar sales for the 30th consecutive year and Twin, the first hybrid Keicar in Japan, marketed.
• 2004 - Aggregate domestic automobile sales reach 15 million units
• 2005 - Swift was awarded the 2006 RJC Car of the Year.
• 2006 - New XL7 is marketed particularly to the North American market and GM divested, selling 92.36 million shares and reducing their stake to 3%.