Suzuki Motor Corporation celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. Now the purveyor of small cars, motorbikes, and outboard marine engines, Suzuki’s history date back to 1920 as a manufacturer of looms. Yes, looms.
Suzuki Loom Works was founded in 1902 in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture in Japan by accomplished innovator and inventor Michio Suzuki. The company was built to help the weaving industry and the other businesses in the city. Its initial business was providing loom weaving equipment for Japan’s massive pre-war silk industry.
“If the customer needs something, we must do whatever we can to respond. Hard work guarantees success.” This was Michio Suzuki’s famous quote, and it is this principle that pushed Suzuki to diversify into another industry that was crucial to the advancement of Japan: the motor vehicle transport industry.
In March 1920, the company was reorganized into Suzuki Loom Manufacturing Company, the precursor of the modern-day Suzuki Motor Corporation. Suzuki’s first motorcycle was released in 1954. Called the Suzuki Colleda, it is a motorcycle that’s powered by a 90cc engine. The Suzuki Colleda was a project of Shunzo Suzuki, the company’s managing director. The inspiration to build a motorcycle came when he was riding his bicycle against a headwind. Since then, he thought of building a motorized bicycle that’s both reliable and easy to operate. The Suzuki Colleda embodies exactly these principles of his.
Suzuki’s first automobile came out in 1955, which is called the Suzulight. The Suzulight came out at a time when Japan’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) announced a goal for the Japanese auto industry to produce a small four-seater vehicle with a 100 kph top speed and a price of JPY150,000, thus speeding up the country’s adoption of automobiles.
With its presence in the automotive industry firmly established, the Japanese company went on to release its first outboard engine for marine vehicles. In 1965, Suzuki released its first outboard engine, which is dubbed as the “ultimate 4-stroke outboard.” This engine pushed Suzuki into dominance into the outboard engine market.
Suzuki went on to produce some of the most iconic nameplates in the automotive industry. In 1970, the first Suzuki Jimny was released. It was a result of the dreams of Suzuki’s engineers to build a vehicle that could travel to forests where no other car could.
Prototypes of the Jimny were driven over stairs and bumpy roads. Twists and warps in the body were measured, and unstressed areas were shaved down. Suzuki says that during a beach test, its larger competitors sank into the sand and ground to a halt, while the Jimny kept on driving smoothly. To this day, the Suzuki Jimny is an iconic body-on-frame small SUV that’s popular to those looking for a rugged small SUV that could literally go anywhere they desire.
In 1988, Suzuki released the first-ever Vitara, its popular line of rugged small SUVs. Its body-on-frame construction and diminutive size was not just an affordable way to go off-road. Its tiny dimensions also provided the vehicle excellent approach, break-over, and departure angles, which is critical in off-roading. It also had a proper four-wheel-drive (4WD) system with a locking center differential. Compared to SUVs at its time, which were large in comparison to the Vitara, the diminutive SUV was fuel-efficient and easy to drive.
Nowadays, the Vitara has now become a more mainstream unibody crossover, which still proved to be a popular formula for consumers looking for a small crossover with a fun-to-drive nature.
Suzuki was also no stranger when it comes to sporty compact cars. To fill a sporty niche in Japan’s kei car segment, Suzuki released the Cappuccino two-seater sports car in Japan. It’s has a 660 cc engine and a 700 kg curb weight. The sports car proved to be popular with drivers looking for an affordable way to experience driving thrills.
Another popular sporty compact car is the Suzuki Swift. The Swift hatchback was not only affordable, but it was also stylish and had the handling of many European small hatchbacks. since its release in 2004, the Swift has won numerous accolades and awards around the world, while total sales have reached five million units by April 2016.
Suzuki’s innovations in motorcycles, compact cars, and outboard marine engines have kept it alive and well for the past 100 years. Here in the Philippines, Suzuki Philippines Incorporated is celebrating its 35th anniversary. Its automobile business has experienced solid growth, being one of the only few brands to experience double-digit growth in 2019 with a 21.17% increase in sales. Meanwhile, its presence in the motorcycle market is also unmatched, with models such as the Raider R150 and Smash dominating its respective segments. Both models have sold more than double its competitors over the years. Suzuki Philippines Incorporated’s newest addition is the outboard marine engine business. In 2019, the outboard marine engine business experienced a staggering 205% growth, thanks to excellent service and its reliable products.
With businesses in multiple sectors, along with its capability to adapt to global trends and regulations, Suzuki Motor Corporation continues to look forward in the next 100 years to come.