Suzuki Motor Corporation is a Japanese manufacturing company producing a range of automobiles (especially Keicars), a full range of motorcycles, outboard motors, and a variety of other small combustion-powered engine products. Suzuki has 15 automotive manufacturing plants in 14 countries and 133 distributors in 119 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. 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 effort 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.
In 1985, Suzuki made an agreement with General Motors to meet the increasing demand for small cars and the Chevrolet Sprint (Suzuki Cultus in Japan) was introduced in the United States.
Also in 1985 (for the 1986 model year), the Samurai (a small off-roader; also known variously as the Jimny, Sierra and SJ410/SJ413 outside the US) 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. It was successful until Consumer Reports reportedly forced the Samurai to roll over in a 1988 test. Both companies spent over a decade in court debating this issue with no winner until 2003 when a judge sided with American Suzuki. As a result in Consumer Reports next issue they printed a correction to the 1988 test.
In 1989, American Suzuki introduced the Swift and a new small SUV called the Sidekick. 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.
In 1995 American Suzuki introduced the Esteem and redesigned the Swift. Worldwide Suzuki production reached more than 975,000 cars this year. In 1996, American Suzuki released the X-90 to replace the Samurai. The Sidekick was replaced by the Vitara and the Grand Vitara for 1999.
After 2001, the Swift (by then the most inexpensive car in America) had left the Suzuki lineup. The Esteem also left, to be replaced with the Aerio for 2002. Suzuki was now down from two SUVs to one, and two cars to one.
In 2004, General Motors and Suzuki Motor Corp in Japan purchased the Bankrupt Daewoo renaming the venture GMDAT. Suzuki then rebadged two of the Daewoo cars with the Suzuki name: the compact Forenza (Daewoo Nubira/Daewoo Lacetti) and the mid-size Verona (Daewoo Magnus, formerly the Daewoo Leganza). The Forenza gained wagon and hatchback body styles for 2005, with the hatchback sold under the Reno name. Suzuki also introduced a redesigned Grand Vitara as a 2006 model.
Beginning with the Chevrolet Sprint, Suzuki has built cars for other manufacturers. In Europe, the main rebadged Suzuki is the Subaru Justy and G3X Justy, which has been a version of its Swift and, more recently, its Ignis. Most of Mazda's (and Autozam's) smallest vehicles are made by Suzuki, as is the Nissan Moco. Suzuki's Samurai/Sierra was also known as the Holden Drover between 1985 and 1987. The Chevrolet Cruze and Holden Cruze are also on Suzuki platforms-again the Ignis's but with a Holden-designed body. The Geo and Chevrolet Tracker were Suzuki Vitaras by another name. Suzuki has recently collaborated with Nissan, they will supply Suzuki with a mid-sized/pick up vehicle, whereas Suzuki will provide Nissan with more minicars for the Japanese home market. In addition the two companies will start manufacturing cars in India, which is an emerging market, Suzuki already owns just over 50% of Maruti Udyog Limited which sell most cars in the Indian market.
* Baleno/Suzuki Esteem/Cultus Crescent
* Grand Vitara
* Jimny/Jimny Sierra
* Alto/Alto Works
* Cervo/Cervo Mode/SC100/Whizzkid
* Kei/Kei Works
* Lapin/Lapin SS
* MR Wagon
* Suzuki Twin
* Wagon R