Born in 1887, Michio Suzuki grew up in Hamamatsu, a small, central seacoast village about 120 miles from Tokyo. The place, and the boy, was steeped in the tradition of the region's famed textiles, looms and woodworking. Suzuki became a carpenter and in 1909, at age 22, founded Suzuki Loom Works to build his break-through pedal-driven wooden loom.
His sights set on the nation's renowned silk industry, Suzuki created more and more sophisticated, complex, yet user-friendly looms. His business boomed.
In 1920, and in his prime, Suzuki grew his small family business into a firm for the new century, creating the Suzuki Loom Manufacturing Company. Its goal: produce textile looms that would far surpass the innovation and quality of his competitors. Within two years the young firm became one of the largest loom manufacturers in Japan and Suzuki began exporting his popular machines to Southeast Asia and India. Suzuki's response was so dynamic that the loom company expansion of 1920 is considered the foundation of today's Suzuki Motor Corporation.
Suzuki's looms were built to last. That meant demand could not keep pace with his company's potential for growth. Suzuki knew he needed to try something fresh. In response, he did what has since become a company hallmark: he took a hard look at what the people—his neighbors and his customers—most needed. What he found was a lack of inexpensive, reliable transportation.
Back at the drawing board, Suzuki designed a prototype vehicle. But before manufacture could begin, the world war overwhelmed domestic concerns.
Post-war chaos nearly wrecked the Suzuki Loom Manufacturing Company. But the need in Japan for reliable, affordable personal transportation had become greater than ever. And now it was Suzuki's son's turn to look at the business horizon.
What Shunzo Suzuki did was design a unique motor that could be attached to a bicycle.
His square-shaped motor powered the cycle through the regular pedaling chain. But the design also allowed the rider to free-wheel while the engine was running, pedal-assist the motor or disconnect the motor completely.
This ingenious operating system was a hit at the nation's patent office; the new democratic government gave Shunzo Suzuki a subsidy to continue his research into motorcycle engineering.
The "Power Free" motorized bicycle built entirely by the Suzuki company—down to the carburetor and flywheel magneto—took the road in 1952. It was inexpensive and simple to maintain. The very next year, Suzuki took the first of countless racing victories when the 60cc "Diamond Free" won its class in the Mount Fuji Hill Climb.
The company soon officially changed its name to the Suzuki Motor Co., Ltd. In 1955, Suzuki followed its success in motorcycles by marketing the Colleda, and creating its first mass-production automobile, the "Suzulight." It was Japan's first lightweight car.
Again showcasing the family's—and the company's—penchant for innovation and affordability of its products, the car opened the way for the motorization of Japan and helped usher in the Japanese era of light-weight cars. The Suzulight included front-wheel drive, four-wheel independent suspension and rack-and-pinion steering—features that would not become common until a half-century later.
Jitsujiro Suzuki, the company's third president, said the trust of the shop owners who sold his firm's vehicles and of the people who bought them were the inspiration for his firm's commitment to build "value-packed products" that met customer's needs at a reasonable price.
In 1963, the firm brought its innovative, inexpensive, lightweight motorcycle lineup to the United States. Today, Suzuki is one of the world's "Big Four" motorcycle makers delivering a range of advanced street, off-road and championship-winning machines.
Many years later in 1983 the company was the “first on four wheels®” when it introduced the first four-wheeled ATV, the QuadRunner LT125.
Two years later, Suzuki brought its automobile line to the United States for the first time. No other Japanese company sold more cars in the United States in its first year than Suzuki.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans looking for tough, sporty yet practical transportation snapped up Suzuki's revolutionary SUVs. Some of those original 4X4s, scraped, scratched and dusty, can still be found rolling on rugged off-road trails across the country.
By the 1980s, with Osamu Suzuki in the president's chair, the company pushed forward its strong commitment to social responsibility. Besides promoting efforts to reduce pollution, Suzuki urged his industry to take part in the economic development of the countries in which their products were built and sold. He believed his company has a duty "to enrich the lives of their people."
In 2000, Automotive News named Suzuki the fastest-growing Japanese auto company in America. The company quickly followed up by introducing America's first affordable seven-passenger SUV, the Suzuki XL-7.
Within five years Suzuki launched its line of Verona and Forenza sedans, the versatile Reno and fully-loaded Forenza Wagons.
With the imaginative 2006 Grand Vitara Suzuki proved that it is possible to mix sophistication and ruggedness in an SUV without a premium price tag.
Today the Suzuki Motor Corporation holds a place as a multinational corporation specializing in the manufacture of automobiles, a full range of motorcycles, and the All-Terrain Vehicles it pioneered, outboard marine engines, wheelchairs and a variety of other small internal combustion engines.
More than 45,000 Suzuki people worldwide now create and distribute their work in over 120 countries. Worldwide Suzuki Automotive sales now reach over 2 million each year, surpassing the sales of many other renowned companies such as BMW, Mercedes and Saab. Additionally more than 2.5 million motorcycles and ATVs are sold each year. Sales of the Suzuki's outboard motors also continue to grow.
In 2007, the company combined its traditional Suzuki reliability, safety and value with the added luxury and performance Americans require creating the new XL7, the first Suzuki designed exclusively for the North American market. It delivers as standard a 252-horsepower V-6 engine along with available 7-passenger seating and all-wheel drive. Available luxury items like a rear seat DVD entertainment system or an available touch-screen navigation system allows consumers to have a Suzuki that fits their own "Way of Life!"
Now, with the unveiling of the all-new 2008 SX4 Sport, Mark Harano, now president of the spirited American Suzuki Motor Corporation's automotive operations, continues to match the standard set nearly a century ago by the brilliant, forward-thinking son of a cotton farmer, Michio Suzuki.