Suzuki is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year as it strengthens a reputation as a world leader in the design and manufacture of economical, environmentally friendly compact cars.
At the same time Suzuki products have now been sold in New Zealand for more than half a century. Ten years after the first Suzuki motorcycles were produced in 1952, the Coleman family in Wanganui imported the first examples into New Zealand.
Michio Suzuki had founded his loom works in Hamamatsu, Japan, in 1909, and in March 1920 reorganised and capitalised the Suzuki company.
After changing its name to Suzuki Motor Company in 1954, Suzuki launched the Suzulight, the first mass-produced mini vehicle in Japan. Then in 1990 the company name changed to Suzuki Motor Corporation because of the brand’s expansion and globalisation.
Suzuki won its first Isle of Man TT motorcycle championship in 1962 and three years later entered the outboard motor field with the launch of a 5.5 horsepower, two-stroke outboard motor.The first generation Jimny arrived in April 1970 and the latest iconic version, introduced last year, is an international success. Cars and light commercial vehicles went on sale in New Zealand in the early 1970s.
South Pacific Suzuki was formed in 1965 and the local distributorship was wholly acquired by Suzuki Motor Corporation in February 1984. It was the first 100 percent Japanese owned company in New Zealand and also a first for the local motor industry, with the Wanganui assembly plant producing up to 2,000 vehicles a year.
In 1978 Suzuki launched a full-scale programme to develop cars designed for overseas markets and less than two decades later had a presence in 170 countries and had sold more than ten million vehicles.
During the 1990s Suzuki increased its share of the New Zealand new car market in eight successive years. Suzuki pioneered the compact Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) class in 1998 with the first generation Vitara.
Suzuki New Zealand celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2009, the same year the brand was named the number one environmentally friendly car with the lowest average emissions. Internationally Suzuki reached the 50 million automobile milestone in 2013, with more than half of these sold outside Japan, reflecting the brand’s universal appeal.
By then Suzuki was the fourth best new passenger car make in New Zealand and the Swift model was a sales hit. Swift’s world-wide production reached one million in just three years. The Automobile Association and local motoring writers named the Swift the top small car in the 2012 awards.
In welcoming the international one hundred years success story, Osamu Suzuki, Chairman of Suzuki Motor Corporation, said, “All members of Suzuki Motor Corporation take this as an important milestone to reaffirm the founder’s philosophy of focusing on customers and strive to deliver products to our customers across the globe.”
Suzuki has also forged relationships with other car makers, including an agreement with Toyota in 2018 towards mutual supply of hybrid and other vehicles. Toyota and Suzuki entered a capital alliance agreement in August last year.
Gary Collins, General Manager of Marketing for Suzuki New Zealand, said, “We are proud to have played a small but growing part of the Suzuki success story over so many years.”
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