- Suzuki is third largest automaker in Japan
- The business was established as the Suzuki Loom Manufacturing Company on March 15, 1920.
- Still sells motorcycles and recreational vehicles in Canada and the United States, but no more cars since 2012/2013.
Suzuki may no longer sell cars and trucks in Canada and the United States, it’s still a company that thrives in other markets and in other activities. On March 15th, the Japanese company blew out 100 candles on its birthday cake.
It all started back in 1920, when Michio Suzuki established the Suzuki Loom Manufacturing Company. Like many Japanese businesses at the time, it ended up expanding its activities to motorcycles, cars, outboard motors and ATVs, among other products. The company started working on developing small cars, but the project was shelved as World War II was approaching. It wasn’t until 1955 that Suzuki marketed its very first automobile, called the Suzulight, powered by a 360-cc two-stroke engine. Meanwhile, its first motorcycle launched in 1952. The “S” logo was adopted as the corporate emblem in 1958, and it still stands today as an immediate identifier of the Suzuki brand.
The first Suzuki automobile to arrive in Canada was actually a tiny SUV called the LJ80, replaced by the Samurai, followed by the Forsa subcompact hatchback. The Sidekick, Swift, X-90, Vitara, Grand Vitara, Verona, Esteem, XL7, Aerio, SX4, Equator and Kizashi models followed through the years in our market, but sagging sales ultimately spelled the end of the company’s car and truck operations in the U.S. and Canada.
Suzuki also collaborated on many projects with other automakers, or provided them with rebadged vehicles. One of those companies was General Motors, who invested in the company from 1981 to 2008, owning a stake of up to 20%. The best-known Suzuki-developed models sold here under other brands included the Chevrolet/Geo/GMC Tracker (also known as the Asüna/Pontiac Sunrunner) and the Chevrolet Spring/Pontiac Firefly, although worldwide, manufacturers such as Fiat, Isuzu, Mazda, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Toyota and Volkswagen have worked with Suzuki to some extent.
Today, the motorcycle and recreational vehicle business is still going strong in North America, but as far as cars go, only Mexico gets them on our half-continent. Meanwhile, models such as the Swift, the Ignis, the Hustler, the Vitara and the awesome little Jimny continue to get our attention from afar.
Happy birthday, Suzuki.