Suzuki Celebrates 100th Anniversary in 2009

Publish Date: 
Mar 30, 2009

Folks unfamiliar with Suzuki may not realize the year 2009 marks the brand’s 100th anniversary.

Suzuki, best known for turning out motorcycles, ATVs, scooters, outboard motors and small-sized automobiles, and which recently entered the market with a full-sized pickup truck, was established by Michio Suzuki in 1909 as a loom maker.

Now operated as Suzuki Motor Corp. (SMC) the company has grown to become the third most prolific Japan-based motorcycle maker in the world behind Honda Motor Co. and Yamaha Motor Corp. And, powered by a global shift towards small, fuel-efficient cars and its lead in the burgeoning Indian market – where its responsible for half of all cars sold – the company in 2008 became one of the top 10 biggest automakers in the world.

SMC established U.S. Suzuki Motor Corp. in Los Angeles in 1963 and established Suzuki of America Automotive Corp. in 1985. American Suzuki Motor Corp. (ASMC) was formed via the merger of U.S. Suzuki Motor Corp and Suzuki of America Automotive Corp. in 1986.

SMC worldwide motorcycle sales for its year ended March 31, 2008, totaled 3.34 million units, up 9 percent from 3.07 million units in the previous fiscal year. ATV sales fell 18 percent from 125,000 units to 102,000 units.

Suzuki plans to increase motorcycle production by 10.3 percent to 3.78 million units this year. The OEM's new "Medium Term Three-Year Plan (April 2008 to March 2011)" calls for worldwide motorcycle sales of 4.40 million units by 2010.

Suzuki Timeline
1909 – Established as a loom maker by Michio Suzuki.
1920 – Reorganized and incorporated as Suzuki Loom Manufacturing Co.
1947 - Suzuki moves its head office to the present address.
1949 - Suzuki lists on the Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya stock exchanges.
1952 – Suzuki enters the motor-vehicle field with the launch of the Power Free 36cc, 2-cycle motorized bicycle.
1954 – Company changes its name to Suzuki Motor Co., Ltd.
1955 – Sold its first passenger car, the 360cc Suzulight.
1958 – Suzuki adopts the "S" mark as its corporate emblem.
1962 - Suzuki wins the 50cc class championship at the Isle of Man TT race.
1963 – Establishes U.S. Suzuki Motor Corp. in Los Angeles.
1965 – Suzuki enters the outboard motor market with the D55 5.5hp, 2-cycle outboard motor.
1967 – Thai Suzuki Motor Co., Ltd. is established (first Suzuki motorcycle plant outside Japan).
1972 – Introduces GT380 motorcycle.
1974 – Suzuki unveils its first motorized wheelchair and prefabricated house.
1976 – GS motorcycle series (400cc, 500cc, 750cc) debuts.
1980 – Suzuki enters the general-purpose engine market with the launch of three models of electric power generator.
1980 – GSX motorcycle series (250cc, 400cc, 750cc) debuts.
1981 – General Motors purchases a 5.3% interest in Suzuki Motor Corp.
1982 – Suzuki’s aggregate motorcycle production in Japan reaches 5 million units; LT125 all-terrain vehicle debuts.
1983 – RG250 sportbike debuts.
1985 – Suzuki establishes Suzuki of America Automotive Corp.; enters the U.S. auto market with the 1.3L, 63 hp Samurai; introduces the GSX-R750; signs a motorcycle production contract in China to form Jinan Qingqi Suzuki Motorcycle Co., Ltd.
1986 – American Suzuki Motor Corp. is formed merging U.S. Suzuki Motor Corp and Suzuki of America Automotive Corp.
1993 – Suzuki signs a joint-venture contract for production of passenger cars and motorcycles in China.
1995 – Aggregate exports of Suzuki motorcycles from Japan reach 20 million units.
1997 – Aggregate export units of automobiles from Japan reach 10 million units; all of Suzuki's plants in Japan simultaneously receive ISO9002 quality-assurance certification.
1998 – Suzuki starts supplying motorcycle engine technology to Aprilia S.p.A. in Italy.
1999 – GSX 1300R Hayabusa debuts; aggregate motorcycle production reaches 40 million units worldwide; Suzuki enters a partnership with Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd.
2000 – GM doubles its stake in Suzuki Motor Corp. to 20 percent. 2001 – Suzuki reaches a basic agreement with Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. on business partnership for motorcycles.
2002 – Aggregate global sales of Suzuki cars reach 30 million units; Burgman large scooter debuts.
2006 – GM sells the majority of its stake back to Suzuki for $2 billion, dropping its ownership from 20 percent to 3 percent.
2008 – SMC owns or has majority interest in nine factories in Japan and 30 production facilities worldwide; supplies 44 directly managed overseas distribution companies.
- Submitted by Guido Ebert