Suzuki Motor Corporation commonly known as Suzuki is a multi-industry Japanese-based corporation whose headquarters are located in Hamamatsu, Japan. Suzuki is known for producing variety of automobiles ranging from compact automobiles to 4 x 4 vehicles. Also, Suzuki specializes in manufacturing a full range of motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), outboard marine engines, wheelchairs and several other small internal combustion engines. After Toyota, Nissan and Honda, Suzuki regarded as the 4th largest automaker in Japan while 9th largest all over the world. The company has over 35 main production facilities in 23 countries and 133 distributors in 192 countries. The statistics provided by Japan Automobile Manufacturer Association (JAMA) suggests that Suzuki holds the second position in the production of small cars and trucks within Japan.
He was Michio Suzuki (1887-1982) who set up the Suzuki Loom Works at the small seacoast village of Hamamatsu, Japan in 1909. Suzuki started weaving looms for Japan’s giant silk industry and later invented a new kind of weaving machine that was exported to other countries. Suzuki filed over 120 patents along with utility model rights. After the establishment, company spent 30 years in the production of this complicated machines.
Suzuki looms gained a lot of popularity, yet Suzuki felt the need of bringing some diversification in its manufacturing products. After working out the consumer demands, Suzuki decided that manufacturing a small car would definitely be a good idea. In 1937, the project was formally launched and within two years of time, Suzuki has manufactured a good number of compact prototype cars. These prototype vehicles were powered by an innovative, liquid-cooled, four-stroke, four-cylinder engine. Other features were a cast aluminum crankcase and gearbox with an output of 13 HP (9.7kW).
During the World War II, Japanese government declared the passenger cars as non-essential commodity as a result of which Suzuki had to cease the production. At the end of the war, Suzuki went back to the production of looms. To his luck, US government approved the shipping of cotton to Japan as a result of which orders for domestic textile manufacturers increased. However, this didn’t continue for long as the cotton market collapsed in 1951.
Suzuki was undergoing a hard time and thought of re-launching the project of manufacturing small cars. Japan was having a tough time after the war and people were looking for an affordable, reliable transportation means. A number of different firms started offering ‘clip-on’ gas-powered engines which could be attached to a common bicycle. Here too the creativity of Suzuki led him to bring motorized bicycle named, the Power Free in 1952. It was a simple, cheaper, and easy to maintain motorized bicycle. The Power Free came with a 36cc, one horsepower, and two-stroke engine. The most extraordinary feature of the Power Free was its double-sprocket gear system allowing the rider different options: to pedal with the engine assisting, pedal without engine assist, or simply disconnect the pedals and run on engine power alone. This invention was so nifty that Suzuki was granted a subsidy by the patent office of the Japanese government so as to bring new innovation in motorcycle engineering. This was the beginning of the Suzuki Motor Corporation.
The Diamond Free, a small 60cc motorcycle won its first class in the Mount Fuji Hill Climb in 1953. The popularity of Suzuki increased as it produced 6000 units in 1954 and also officially changed its name to Suzuki Motor Company Ltd. In 1955, Suzuki launched Suzulight that featured front-wheel drive, four-wheel independent suspension and rack-and-pinion steering.