• Suzuki celebrates its 100th birthday in 2020.
• The brand has interests in cars, boats, and bikes.
• Suzuki began life as a looming company in 1920.
• For more motoring stories, go to www.Wheels24.co.za
Suzuki has been conducting business in South Africa since February 2008. Over the next 12 years, the automaker has seen its success go from strength to strength; so much so that in October 2020 it ended the month as the sixth best-selling automaker in the country.
However, the automaker's success begins at a far earlier stage than 2008. In 1920, Michio Suzuki registered the Suzuki Loom Manufacturing Company. Fast-forward 100 years and Suzuki is a major player in the global automotive, motorcycle, and marine sectors.
André Venter, divisional manager for sales and marketing at Suzuki Auto South Africa, says: "We are humbled by the way South Africans have readily accepted Suzuki into their lives. In June 2008, our first month of sales, we sold 230 units, and by October this year, we hit a new record of 2032 units, while being South Africa's fastest-growing brand several times during the past decade."
Suzuki, as it exists today, was born from Suzuki Loom Manufacturing in 1920. From these early days, the founder, Michio Suzuki, had his sights set on diversification and specifically on automobiles and motorcycles, which he saw as a way of helping his countrymen become more productive and prosperous.
The first Suzuki vehicle prototype was launched in 1937, but the commercialisation was put on hold when the Second World War broke out. Fortunately, the plans were never abandoned and in 1954 Suzuki assigned a team of young and energetic engineers to the automobile project, which in 1955 - a mere year later - led to the introduction of the Suzulight.
On its way to becoming a global powerhouse, Suzuki made the world sit up and take note. In 1970, it launched an all-electric version of its Suzuki Carry Van, which was designed by Giorgetto Giugiario. This was also the year that the world was introduced to the Jimny, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
Suzuki Marine has come a long way since creating the first Suzuki outboard, D55, in 1965 and the current range of four-stroke outboards is second to none in the marketplace. Suzuki engineers are passionate about boating and spend all of their time perfecting fuel-efficient and technologically advanced four-stroke outboard motors so that Suzuki products enable boaters to maximise their time on the water.
In 1975, Suzuki again made headlines when its motorcycle division launched the RE-5, a rotary-engined motorcycle with previously unheard off performance figures, and in 1979, it launched the world's first hydrogen-powered vehicle.
Suzuki Motorcycles is also synonymous in the world of motorcycle racing and to date have proved that they are a force to be reckoned with. The brand has won 16 FIM Superbike world Endurance titles and since their reintroduction into the MotoGP scene has racked up several podiums and wins. In 2020, the Suzuki Ecstar won the Teams' and Riders' championships.
In the eighties, Suzuki entered the Indian market and soon became the best-selling brand overall. It also launched its first all-terrain vehicle (ATV), creating a motorcycle sub-segment that remains popular to this day.
Venter concludes: "While Suzuki has earned its place in the history books for its innovative products, it is still best known as the Japanese maker of affordable, compact, stylish and reliable vehicles. While all our products share this DNA, it is the Swift and Jimny that perhaps best encapsulate this. Now, more than ever before, South Africans are looking for affordable cars, motorcycles and marine equipment that they can trust. We believe that Suzuki, with its 100-year-old ethos of providing value-for-money products with Japanese quality and stylish looks, is best positioned to fill that need, and we look forward to welcoming more South Africans to the family in the next year, decade and century."
Compiled by: Charlen Raymond