Come October and Suzuki Corporation will turn 100. Surprised? Well, Suzuki seem to have a history that goes far back in time, and isn't just about small cars only.
It began in 1909 as the Suzuki loom company by Michio Suzuki who pioneered some key technologies in the world of weaving, that allowed weavers to produce cloth that had vertical and horizontal stripes. The loom business would pave the way for the firm until 1952 when it ventured into motorcycles with Power Free, a 36cc two-stroke bike that could be ridden as either a fully motorised, part pedal-part motorised or pedals without any motorised assistance.
Suzuki would expand into cars in 1955 with the Suzulight, a 360cc front-engined, two-stroke car with front-wheel drive, fully independent front suspension and rack and pinion steering. From small cars to outboard motors in 1965 to SUVs in 1970 and houses in 1974, Suzuki has diversified into several businesses, some of which have been more successful than the others.
Today, Suzuki produces over 2.3 million cars across plants in different parts of the world, while motorcycle production topped 3.4 million as of 2008. Markets such as Europe, India, China and South East Asia rank among its most important markets. Of the 11 million cars on the road today in India today, more than seven and half million are Suzukis, of which four million are Altos - undoubtedly its most successful car line to date and the most successful Kei car as well. Since its inception in 1979, Suzuki has sold over ten million Altos, a remarkable feat, considering Suzuki has mostly remained an independent small car manufacturer.
Suzuki is celebrating its 100 years by showcasing its history and products through the years in a three storeyed building at its headquarters in Japan. The firm is not the only one to be celebrating its centenary year as celebrations at Audi and Bentley are underway already. Congratulations!