In 1909, Michio Suzuki (1887–1982) founded the Suzuki Loom Works in the small seacoast village of Hamamatsu, Japan. Business boomed as Suzuki built weaving looms for Japan's giant silk industry. In 1929, Michio Suzuki invented a new type of weaving machine, which was exported overseas. The company's first 30 years focused on the development and production of these machines.
Despite the success of his looms, Suzuki believed that his company would benefit from diversification and he began to look at other products. Based on consumer demand, he decided that building a small car would be the most practical new venture. The project began in 1937, and within two years Suzuki had completed several compact prototype cars. These first Suzuki motor vehicles were powered by a then-innovative, liquid-cooled, four-stroke, four-cylinder engine. It had a cast aluminum crankcase and gearbox and generated 13 horsepower (9.7 kW) from a displacement of less than 800cc.
With the onset of World War II, production plans for Suzuki's new vehicles were halted when the government declared civilian passenger cars a "non-essential commodity." At the conclusion of the war, Suzuki went back to producing looms. Loom production was given a boost when the U.S. government approved the shipping of cotton to Japan. Suzuki's fortunes brightened as orders began to increase from domestic textile manufacturers. But the joy was short-lived as the cotton market collapsed in 1951.
Faced with this colossal challenge, Suzuki returned to the production of motor vehicles. After the war, the Japanese had a great need for affordable, reliable personal transportation. A number of firms began offering "clip-on" gas-powered engines that could be attached to the typical bicycle. Suzuki's first two-wheeled vehicle was a bicycle fitted with a motor called, the "Power Free." Designed to be inexpensive and simple to build and maintain, the
1952 Power Free had a 36 cc, one horsepower, two-stroke engine. The new double-sprocket gear system enabled the rider to either pedal with the engine assisting, pedal without engine assist, or simply disconnect the pedals and run on engine power alone. The patent office of the new democratic government granted Suzuki a financial subsidy to continue research in motorcycle engineering.
By 1954, Suzuki was producing 6,000 motorcycles per month and had officially changed its name to Suzuki Motor Co., Ltd. Following the success of its first motorcycles, Suzuki created an even more successful automobile: the 1955 Suzuki Suzulight. The Suzulight sold with front-wheel drive, four-wheel independent suspension and rack-and-pinion steering, which were not common on cars until three decades later.
Volkswagen held a 19.9% non-controlling shareholding in Suzuki between 2009 and 2015. An international arbitration court ordered Volkswagen to sell the stake back to Suzuki. Suzuki paid $3.8bn to complete the stock buy-back in September 2015.
The company was founded by Michio Suzuki; its current Chairman is Osamu Suzuki, the fourth adopted son-in-law in a row to run the company,
The Suzuki Loom Company started in 1909 as a manufacturer of looms for weaving silk and cotton. Michio Suzuki was intent on making better, more user-friendly looms and, for 30 years his focus was on the development of these machines. Michio's desire to diversify into automotive products was interrupted by World War II. Before it began building four-stroke engines, Suzuki Motor Corp. was known for its two-stroke engines (for motorcycles and autos). After the war, Suzuki made a two-stroke motorized bicycle, but eventually the company would be known for Hayabusa and GSX-R motorcycles, for the QuadRunner, and for dominating racetracks around the world. Even after producing its first car in 1955 the company didn't have an automobile division until 1961. Today Suzuki is among the world's largest automakers, and a major brand name in important markets, including Japan and India, but no longer sells cars in North America.
- 1909: Michio Suzuki founds Suzuki Loom Works founded in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan.
- 1920: incorporated, and capitalized at ¥500,000 as Suzuki Loom Manufacturing Co. with Michio Suzuki as president.
- 1937: Suzuki begins a project to diversify into manufacturing small cars. Within two years several innovative prototypes are completed, but the government declares civilian passenger cars a "non-essential commodity" at the onset of World War II, thwarting production plans.
- 1940: Takatsuka Plant is built in Kami-mura, Hamana-gun, Shizuoka, Japan.
- 1945: Plants close due to severe war damage. Company offices move to the Takatsuka Plant site.
- 1947: Head office moves to the present address.
- 1949: Company lists on the Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya Stock Exchanges.
- 1950: Company has financial crisis due to labor difficulties.
- 1952: "Power Free" motorized bicycle marketed.
- 1953: Introduction of Diamond Free 60cc, 2-cycle motorized bicycle, displacement subsequently increases to 70cc.
- 1954: Company name changed to Suzuki Motor Co., Ltd.
- 1955: Introduction of Colleda COX 125cc 4-stroke single-cylinder, and Colleda ST 125cc, two-stroke single-cylinder motorcycles.
- Suzulight (360cc, two-stroke) front wheel drive car introduced at the start of Japan's minivehicle age.
- 1957: Michio Suzuki designated as adviser, and his son
Shunzo Suzuki appointed as company president.
- 1958: S mark adopted as corporate emblem.
- 1959: Launch of Colleda Sel Twin (2-cylinder) 125cc, two-stroke motorcycle with electric starter.
- Introduction of all-new Suzulight TL 360cc light commercial, two-stroke minivehicle.
- September 26, Typhoon Vera (Ise-Wan) destroys Suzuki's assembly plant.
- 1960: In March Suzuki's new modern assembly line plant is finished.
- Suzuki enter a motorcycle race team into Grands Prix under the manufacturing name Colleda with riders Toshio Matsumoto, Michio Ichino and Ray Fay, placing 15th, 16th, and 18th in Isle of Man TT races.
- 1961: Separation of the loom machine division from the motor company, as Suzuki Loom Manufacturing Co.
- Suzuki enter race motorcycles of RT61 125 cc and RV61 250 cc into Grands Prix under the Suzuki name with two riders from the team of Mitsuo Itoh, Michio Ichino, Sadao Masuda, Toshio Matsumoto, Paddy Driver, Hugh Anderson and Alastair King placing 10th and 12th in 250 cc Isle of Man TT races.
- Production of the Suzulight Carry 360cc, two-stroke lightweight truck begins at new plant in Toyokawa, Aichi Prefecture, Japan.
- 1962: First victory in the inaugural season of 50 cc Grand Prix motorcycle racing comes at the end of a three-way battle between Suzuki, Honda and Kreidler at the Isle of Man TT. The winning RM62 machine was ridden by Ernst Degner who had defected from the East German MZ team to Suzuki the previous year.
- 1963: Mitsuo Itoh makes history as the first Japanese rider to win the Isle of Man TT, when he takes the lead on the last lap of the 50cc race after Suzuki teammate Degner breaks down. Suzuki wins both the rider's and manufacturer's championships, in both 50cc and 125cc classes, for this season of World Grand Prix motorcycle racing.
- Subsidiary company opens in Los Angeles, to enter the American motorcycle market, as U.S. Suzuki Motor Corp.
- 1965: Enters outboard motor market with the launch of D55 5.5 hp, two-stroke engine.
- Introduction of Fronte 800 two-stroke subcompact passenger vehicle.
- T20 motorcycle introduced as "the fastest 250cc motorcycle in the world", aimed at the US market but gets worldwide attention.
Suzuki T500 at the Salon de la moto 2011 in Paris
- 1967: Thailand gets the first motorcycle assembly plant outside Japan, creating Thai Suzuki Motor Co., Ltd.
- 1968: After a winning 1967 season, the Suzuki motorcycle race team withdraws from World Grand Prix due to changes in FIM rules. Hans-Georg Anscheidt rides a 1967 machine in 1968 as a privateer, for the seventh season of Suzuki GP championships.
- Introduction of Carry Van 360cc, two-stroke minivan with a full cab over design.
- Launch of T500 motorcycle with an air-cooled parallel-twin 500cc engine, the largest displacement of any two-stroke at the time.
- 1969: Motorcycle plant built in Oyabe, Toyama, Japan.
- 1970: Foundry is built in Ogasa, Shizuoka, Japan; automobile plant is built in Kosai, Shizuoka.
Frank Whiteway easily wins the 500cc class at the Isle of Man TT race on a production T500 motorcycle prepared by
- LJ10, the first mass-production 4x4 domestic mini-car, becomes available in Japan, powered by a 360cc twin cylinder air-cooled two-stroke engine.
- 1971: Production plant for medium to large motorcycles is built in Toyokawa, Aichi, Japan.
- 1972: Suzuki Parts Manufacturing Company, Ltd., is established in Akita Prefecture, Japan.
- The Hustler 400 (TS400) motorcycle released as a street version of the TM400.
Jitsujiro Suzuki appointed as president, and Shunzo Suzuki appointed as chairman.
- 1974: Indonesian subsidiary established in Jakarta as P.T. Suzuki Indonesia Manufacturing.
- Company enters into medical equipment field with launch of the Suzuki Motor Chair Z600 motorized wheelchair.
- Expansion into the housing field initiated with Suzuki Home marketing two models of prefab "Mini-House" and three types of storage sheds.
- RE5 introduced as the first Japanese (production) motorcycle with a rotary engine in the world.
- 1975: Delays in compliance with car emission regulations cause severe difficulties for the company.
- Philippine distributor Rufino D. Antonio and Associates institute a joint venture with Suzuki (Japan) under the name of Antonio Suzuki Corporation, to expand motorcycle sales in the Philippines.
- LJ50 (Jimny) 4x4 released in Australia with a more powerful, export-only, 550 cc liquid-cooled two-stroke straight-three engine.
- RM125 introduced as a production version of the works machine RA75 on which Gaston Rahier won the 125cc World Motocross GP championship. From 1975 to 1984, Suzuki dominates this class 10 years in a row with Gaston Rahier, Akira Watanabe, Harry Everts, Eric Geboers and Michele Rinaldi.
- Assembly outside Japan commences for the first time, in Pakistan. Assembly kits of the ST90 Carry and LJ80 (Jimny) are shipped, both with 800 cc engines. Production and sales were done by two local entities (Sind Engineering and Naya Dauer Motor) under the auspices of PACO (Pakistan Automobile Corporation).
- 1976: GS Series motorcycles released, the GS750 and GS400 are the first four-stroke machines from Suzuki in 20 years.
- 1977: Debut of Cervo two-stroke minivehicle for domestic market, export version introduced the next year with four-stroke engine.
- Last of the LJ utility 4x4 series, the LJ80, gets a new four-cylinder water-cooled 800cc four-stroke engine, and is exported to Australia and Europe the following year.
- 1978: Appointment of Osamu Suzuki as president, Jitsujiro Suzuki appointed as chairman.
- 1979: Alto two-stroke minivehicle introduced. This car was a massive success, propelling Suzuki into seventh place amongst Japanese car and truck manufacturers, and helped the company's bargaining position when later linking up with Isuzu and General Motors.
- 1980: Suzuki Australia Pty. Ltd. established in Sydney, Australia.
- 1981: Consolidated (i.e., including subsidiaries) sales for the fiscal year reach ¥500 billion.
- General Motors and Isuzu Motors announce cooperation with Suzuki Motor Company in the production and marketing of new "mini-cars". GM purchases a 5.3% stake in Suzuki.
- The RG Gamma (RG Γ) makes its first appearance in Grand Prix motorcycle racing; Suzuki wins sixth-consecutive manufacturer's title, and Suzuki rider Marco Lucchinelli becomes the 500 cc class champion.
- German designer
Hans A. Muth uses the motif of the samurai sword to create the original GSX1100S Katana, a motorcycle that "typifies Suzuki".
- Production begins on a second generation of 4x4 utility vehicles with 1-liter engines; the SJ410 is designed for export and sold as the Suzuki Samurai in Canada, and as the Jimny 1000 in some markets.
- 1982: Aggregate (i.e., sum-total) motorcycle production at the Toyama Plant reaches 5 million units.
- 1983: Jitsujiro Suzuki steps down from the chairmanship.
- 1984: Suzuki New Zealand Ltd. established in Wanganui, New Zealand. Suzuki France S.A. is established in Trappes, France. Suzuki Motor GmbH Deutschland is established in Heppenheim, Germany.
- Suzuki starts exporting 1-liter Cultus to U.S. automaker General Motors Corp.
- An upgraded SJ 4x4, with a 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine and a five-speed gearbox, is released. The SJ413 is sold in the U.S. market (as the Samurai) the following year, and ultimately in over 100 countries.
- Suzuki signs a car production technical assistance contract with China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation.
- Introduction of the GSX-R750 motorcycle with an oil-cooled 4-cylinder DOHC engine.
- 1985: Aggregate sales of Alto in Japan reach 1 million units.
- 1986: American Suzuki Motor Corp. is established in Brea, California, to consolidate operations in USA.
- Suzuki reaches an agreement with General Motors Corp. of Canada for cooperation in establishment of a joint venture company.
- 1987: Aggregate car exports from Japan reach 2 million units. Annual global sales of automobiles reach 1 million units.
- Cultus/Swift production began in Colombia.
- Suzuki reaches an agreement with Mazda Motor Corp. for cooperation in production of micro-mini vehicles.
- 1988: Escudo (Vitara/Sidekick) 1.6-liter, four-cycle compact 4x4 vehicle debuts.
- 1989: Aggregate car production reached 10 million units.
"A gem set in the Suzuki world." The plant in Esztergom
, Hungary is built on a site covering some 350,000 square metres (3,800,000 sq ft)
- 1990: Company changes its name to Suzuki Motor Corporation.
- Kei car standards are upgraded. New mini-vehicles are released under the latest specifications: engine capacity raised to 660cc; overall length extended to 10.8 feet (3.3 m).
- 1991: Consolidated sales reach ¥1 trillion.
- Suzuki signs a car production contract in Hungary, establishing Magyar Suzuki Corporation.
- Production of Suzuki cars begins in Korea through a technical tie-up with Daewoo Shipbuilding and Heavy Machinery Ltd.
- Cappuccino mini two-seater convertible debuts.
- 1992: Production of Suzuki cars begins at the new plant of Pak Suzuki Motors in Karachi, Pakistan.
- Production and sales of Hungarian-built Suzuki cars begin.
- Suzuki becomes a 50% partner in Maruti Udyog.
- 1993: Aggregate (i.e., sum-total) motorcycle production at Thai Suzuki Motor Co., Ltd. reaches 2 million units.
- 1994: Aggregate sales of Suzuki cars in Japan reach 10 million units.
- Maruti Udyog of India aggregate car production reach 1 million units.
- Suzuki and Isuzu Motors Ltd. agree to dissolve their business tie-up.
- 1995: Aggregate sales of Suzuki minivehicles in Japan reach 10 million units, aggregate motorcycle exports from Japan reached 20 million units.
- Suzuki pulls out of its capital tie-up with Santana S.A. in Spain but continues car-related technical cooperation.
- 1996: Aggregate sales of Carry in Japan reach 3 million units.
Vietnam Suzuki corporation starts production of motorcycles and automobiles in the Bien Hoa industrial zone.
- Production of Suzuki Motorcycles begins at Jinan Qingqi Suzuki Motorcycle Co., Ltd., China.
- 1997: Achieved 10 million cumulative automobile sales for overseas market.
- 1998: Suzuki and General Motors Corporation agree on joint development of compact vehicles, both companies agree to strengthen their business tie-up and form a strategic alliance. GM changes its equity stake in Suzuki from 3.3% to 10%.
- 1999: Aggregate motorcycle production reaches 40 million units, aggregate sales of Wagon R in Japan reach 1 million units.
- Jiangxi Changhe Suzuki Automobile Co., Ltd. receives official approval from the Chinese government for production of commercial vehicles.
- General Motors Argentina, S.A. and Suzuki Motor Corporation form an industrial and commercial alliance by which General Motors in Argentina distributes all Suzuki automotive products.
- 2000: The corporation commemorates its 80th anniversary.
- 2001: Aggregate worldwide sales of Jimny/SJ reaches 2 million units, production of Alto reaches 4 million units.
- 2002: Achieved 30 million cumulative automobile sales for worldwide market.
Suzuki's Concept S2
previews design concepts for the second generation Swift
at the 2003 Osaka Auto Messe
- 2003: Suzuki is No.1 in Kei car sales for the 30th consecutive year in Japan.
- 2004: Aggregate domestic automobile sales reach 15 million units.
- 2005: Aggregate car production at Maruti Udyog Ltd. reaches 5 million units, and aggregate motorcycle production in Indonesia also reaches 5 million units.
- 2006: The SX4 mini crossover is introduced at the Geneva Motor Show and the XL7 crossover 4x4 is introduced at the New York International Auto Show.
- GM divests, selling 92.36 million shares of Suzuki Motor Corporation and reducing their stake to 3%.
- 2007: Aggregate domestic automobile sales reach 15 million units.
- 2008: GM divests its remaining 3% stake in Suzuki.
- 2009: 100th anniversary of the Suzuki brand name.
- Suzuki markets its first production pickup truck called the Equator.
- Volkswagen and Suzuki announce the establishment of a global strategic partnership. The Volkswagen Group will buy a 20% stake in Suzuki Motor Corp.
- November: Suzuki breaks ground on a new 650,000 m2. factory in Eastern Seaboard Industrial Estate in Rayong Province, Thailand, the 20 billion yen investment for eco-car production to start in March 2012.
- 2010: Aggregate sales of Suzuki cars in Japan reach 20 million units.
- January: Volkswagen Group completes its purchase of 19.9% of Suzuki's outstanding shares.
- Its plant in Yangon, Burma, was closed after the joint venture with the government between 1998 and 2010 had expired.
- 2011: Suzuki announces Indonesia will become a regional production base with investment up to $800 million over the next few years.
Suzuki Manufacturing of America Corp. (SMAC) celebrates the 10th anniversary of its Rome, Georgia, plant, and $1.4 billion sales in the past decade.
- November: Suzuki terminates its partnership with VW in accordance with terms of the agreement, and commences arbitration proceedings for return of Suzuki shares held by the Volkswagen Group.
- 2012: Aggregate domestic sales in India by Maruti Suzuki reaches 10 million units. Aggregate domestic sales of minivehicles in Japan reaches 20 million units.
- January: Suzuki announces plans to build a new engine factory as the third factory in Indonesia for the fast-growing Southeast Asian market. Suzuki spent ¥10 billion ($130 million) for a 1.3 million square-metre site in an industrial park outside Jakarta, and the plant may cost ¥30 billion to build.
- February: Suzuki Motor Corp. and Intelligent Energy of Loughborough in the UK, a manufacturer of hydrogen-powered fuel cells, announce a joint venture to accelerate the commercialisation of zero-emission vehicles.
- March: Suzuki Motor Thailand starts production and sales of the new Swift compact car.
- November: American Suzuki Motor Corp. files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Owing to its focus on small cars, a strong yen and stringent US safety regulations which have hurt growth, Suzuki Motors announces it will discontinue building autos for the US market and focus instead on motorcycles, ATVs and marine equipment. U.S. sales had peaked in 2007 but had dropped to a quarter of that by 2011.
- Suzuki got the approval for setting up a new factory and revive its plant in Yangon. This will resume its vehicle and spare part production in Myanmar which was closed in 2012.
- One-Millionth commemorative edition GSX-R1000 model celebrates a million motorcycles produced in the Suzuki GSX-R series since 1985.
Suzuki's new, larger SX4 at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show
- 50th anniversary Special Edition GSX-R1000 model celebrates Suzuki's 1963 entry into the U.S. motorcycle market.
- March: In spite of a 2012 statement to the contrary, Suzuki Canada Inc. announced it would discontinue its auto-building operations in Canada as part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings in the U.S. It was contemplated that the sale of motorcycles, ATVs and marine equipment would continue in Canada as well as in the U.S.
- July: News reports suggested that disaccord over the erstwhile alliance between Volkswagen and Suzuki might be settled as a result of renewed talks between the two companies. These reports were soon denied by Executive Vice President
Toshihiro Suzuki, who said that "there have been various reports, but there absolutely are no such facts, so there is nothing I can talk about on this topic."
- October: Suzuki recalls 210,228 motorcycles in the U.S. because the front brakes might not work properly.
- Permanent court of arbitration showed a judgment that VW owned Suzuki shares should be sold, and officially dissolved the alliance with Suzuki's stock (19.9%) held by VW.