Suzuki has just celebrated its 100th engineering year during which time it has cars, motorcycles, outboard marine engines and ATV products.
Eleven years before the Suzuki Loom Manufacturing Co was formed in 1920, founder Michio Suzuki pioneered a new type of textile loom design in 1909 after watching his mother using her labour intensive and primitive device to weave cloth.
Suzuki decided to diversify his skills into transport and began designing and developing his first car from 1937 although further work on this was shelved due to the Second World War. Suzuki returned to transport development in Japan and his son Shunzo joined him. Riding his pedal cycle in strong head winds one day, Shunzo realised he could make his daily journey much easier by designing his own simple motor assisted cycle. His R&D team demonstrated the Power Free 36cc motorcycle in 1952 which went into production that same year.
In the autumn of 1953 Suzuki was building 6,000 motorcycles per month.
From 1954 when Suzuki Motor Co was formed and its first car emerged in 1955 with lightweight and innovative design and a two-stroke 360cc engine.
Known as the Suzulight, it was developed by a team of just six and was the first car ever to utilise fully independent suspension and rack and pinion steering.
Suzulight was a compact vehicle weighing just over 500kg and powered by a 360cc, 15PS two cylinder, two-stroke engine which was the first of its type to ever be fitted to a car. It was also the first car in Japan to feature a front wheel drive / front engine layout.
As a prototype, its most memorable early drive was a 300km trip across the Hakone mountainous region between Hamamatsu and Tokyo which proved challenging on roads that had not yet been paved. Production commenced in October 1955 with initial production of 3-4 cars per month but by early 1956 monthly volume had climbed to 30 units. From the archives, Michio Suzuki delivered his first retail car to a local doctor who had previously carried out his home visits on a bicycle.
In December 1959, just three months after its launch it had already reached the monthly production goal of 200 units which climbed sharply in FY 1960 to a total of 5,824 units.
65 years since delivery of its first car, Suzuki remains globally renowned as the small car experts, Michio Suzuki’s original strategy of the design and production of lightweight vehicles lives on with platforms introduced for Ignis and Swift. The latest Swift Sport Hybrid weighs in at just 1,025kg.
2020 was also another important milestone for Suzuki as it celebrated the 50th Anniversary of its 4×4 models since the launch of its lightweight and go anywhere LJ10 Jimny and the first Vitara model was introduced in 1988. Today, six models in the range have 4×4 capability optionally available which is unique in the industry.
On water, the first Outboard motor was launched in 1965 with a one cylinder, 5.5hp engine. Today, more than 30 different types are offered and in 2020 Suzuki launched a ground-breaking micro plastic collecting device for its engines which finely filters and cleans sea water as it travels along while cooling the engine at the same time, essentially reducing damage to the environment and helping protect sea life.
The first Suzuki ATV or Quad Bike was launched in 1982 before any of its competitors and today with a product range of three models available in the UK it proves an invaluable working tool to Farmers and Businesses working in rural and remote communities.
On two wheels there aren’t many more iconic and immediately recognisable silhouettes in motorcycling, and the GSX1300R Hayabusa wowed the two-wheeled world when it was launched in 1999.
Suzuki Sets New Standards read the media review headline following the launch of the first Hayabusa at the Circuit de Catalunya in 1999. The new Hayabusa (which translates to peregrine falcon, a bird of prey which has a top speed dive of 200mph and preys on blackbirds), did just that.
It wasn’t just the phenomenal power that the bike was praised for. The smooth, 1299cc inline-four-cylinder engine provided a high level of torque, making the Hayabusa more than just a road-legal missile, but a user friendly, real-world motorcycle, capable of shrinking continents. It was happy cruising at motorway speeds on long-distance trips, or on the casual Sunday ride out. And it handled too, with the chassis and agility the other key areas where the Hayabusa scored highly.
It became an immediate hit and cult status followed, with the Hayabusa becoming an icon.
Back in 1982, the QuadRunner 125 was the ATV that started an industry. It was the first ever production 4-wheel ATV and became a top-seller. This ATV boasted a friendly design that was easy to use and an outstanding cost-performance ratio. It was to be the catalyst that started a future of 4-wheel ATV technology and today Suzuki produces around 15,000 units per annum globally.
Today Suzuki’s range currently comprises of three versatile models; the KingQuad 500 and 500XP as well as the KingQuad 750XP (XP denotes power steering). These robust utility ATVs are the culmination of years of refinement and their high levels of technical specification and ease of handling make them suitable for a variety of applications including hill and lowland farming, estate management and use on equestrian properties.
On water, the DF350A is Suzuki’s flagship outboard model – it is also the most powerful and most technically advanced product that Suzuki produces. The DF350A utilises a 4.4-litre V6 engine with an output of 350hp and incorporates a unique dual propeller system for better power delivery, low end torque and higher stability when turning at speed. A Direct air intake and special design louvre system assists with higher power output and improved combustion efficiency.
The engine uses Suzuki’s renowned and world-leading Lean Burn Fuel Control System for significant improvements in fuel efficiency across the entire rev range and not just within a particular power band. The engine also incorporates Drive-By-Wire throttle for smooth and precise control as well as dual injectors for a higher output and better fuel efficiency.
Marine plastic waste is a growing environmental issue with a huge amount of mismanaged waste flowing into the oceans each year. The waste then breaks down into micro-plastics in the ocean’s ecosystem, significantly impacting marine life.
To help tackle this issue, Suzuki has focused on the structure of the outboard motor, which pumps up tons of seawater to cool the engine and then returns the water to the ocean. Suzuki has developed a device which collects micro-plastic waste from the returning water. Through this device, micro-plastic waste can be collected just by running the engine.
2020 was the 10th year of Suzuki’s continuing activities to clean oceans. As marine plastic waste becomes an increasingly serious and pressing problem, Suzuki has taken the opportunity to review how it has been contributing to the environment and society and research what it can do to change direction. As well as collecting micro-plastic waste through developing the Micro-Plastic Collecting Device, the project includes the following commitments.
Pictured: The current car – the Swift and the first model the Suzulight