Suzuki Motor Corporation
(Japanese: スズキ株式会社 Hepburn: Suzuki Kabushiki-Kaisha?) is a Japanese multinational corporation headquartered in Minami-ku, Hamamatsu, Japan, which specializes in manufacturing automobiles, four-wheel drive vehicles, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), outboard marine engines, wheelchairs and a variety of other small internal combustion engines. In 2014, Suzuki was thought to be the ninth biggest automaker by production worldwide. Suzuki has over 45,000 employees worldwide and has about 35 main production facilities in 23 countries and 133 distributors in 192 countries.
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. (Actual text taken from Wikipedia.org: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suzuki)
What Happened to the Suzuki Samurai?
In 1985 the 1986 model year Samurai was introduced in America. It was an instant success with a conservative starting price of $6,200.00 and $7,500.00 fully loaded. The number imported the 1st month was 1200 trucks which quickly increased to 8000 per month as sales skyrocketed. The first year 83,000 Samurais were sold in the US and 143,000 in three years. Not only was it the best selling convertible in the US but it set the record for the best first year sales of any Japanese car company.
The Samurai was destined for greatness but soon met with unexpected opposition when Consumer Report Magazine, the magazine arm of Consumers Union, reported that during their 1988 test on the short course avoidance maneuver, the Samurai experienced what they claimed to be an “unacceptable amount of roll-over” while taking a sever turn. Even though Consumer Report was inaccurate in their report and the published statement that the “Samurai easily rolls over in turns” was later proven to be unfounded, the public image was ruined. In June of 1988, when the Consumer Report findings were first released, sales dropped form 6,074 to 2,199. Of course Suzuki brought a suit against the Consumers Union but the 8 year court battle and tarnished reputation projected by Consumer Report Magazine was too much for the Samurai and it died an early death in the US market, although it continued to be sold in more than 100 other countries world wide.
Samurai Sales In US Market*
- 1887 83,318
- 1988 54,269
- 1989 5,031
- 1990 4,848
- 1991 4.343
- 1992 3,249
- 1993 1,127
- 1994 1,297
- 1995 622
*Statistics came from Video link below.
Video – Watch THIS video of the tests done in 1988 and how the Consumers Union tried to make the Samurai tip.
The legend Continues
Samurai- – Guinness World Record Holder
The Suzuki Samurai holds the record for the highest altitude attained by a four-wheel driver vehicle. On April 22, 2007 a two man team of Chilean drivers, Gonzalo Bravo and Eduardo Cananles, drove their modified Suzuki Samurai (J413) up the Ojos del Salado trail to an height of 6,668 meters (21,942 ft.) passing the previously set record by a Jeep which reached an altitude of 6,646 meters (21,804). Interestingly, the jeep lead by driver Matthias Jeschke, driving a Jeep Wrangler left a sign at their turn around point that read, “Jeep Parking Only: All others don’t make it up here anyway”. Gonzalo and Eduardo, decided to bring the sign back as a souvenir and proof that they had indeed parked there.
The record holding Samuari was equipped with larger tires, suspension changes and a supercharged G16A 4 Cylinder engine. This was the third attempt for the Chilean team. The first attempt failed due to bad weather, the scond was holted by an engine fire and yes you guessed it, “The third time was the charm”.
This record is duly certified by Guinness World Record in July of 2007. (Information for this section came from http://www.zukioffroad.com/samurai_history.shtml)