Suzuki is a Japanese auto manufacturer that began as a loom maker. The company, known for the value and affordability of its vehicles, produced sedans, wagons and SUVs. It is also involved with the production of engines, motorcycles, ATVs, and outboard motors. Founded by Michio Suzuki in 1909 as Suzuki Loom, by the 1950s the company began to sell motorcycles and cars.
In 1955 the Suzulight was released. Though based on the Lloyd LP400, the vehicle had innovations not seen on other cars for three decades: front-wheel drive, four-wheel independent suspension and rack-and-pinion steering. The Suzulight Carry pickup was produced in 1961. More models were introduced, such as the Fronte passenger car, the subcompact Fronte 800 and the Carry Van full-cab van. During this time, Suzuki earned a reputation for innovation and meeting customer demands.
GM and Suzuki formed a partnership in the 1980s. General Motor’s need to meet a growing market for subcompacts and Suzuki’s desire to expand into the American market created a great opportunity for both companies. GM immediately began to sell rebadged Suzuki brands in America. The Japanese company began selling the Samurai, a compact SUV, under the Suzuki name in the American market in 1985. Although very popular, the success did not last.
Consumer Reports in 1988 published an article which branded the Samurai unsafe. The magazine claimed that the vehicle was more likely to roll over than other vehicles. This bad publicity hurt sales and foreshadowed future problems. In 1996 Suzuki sued the magazine, alleging that their reputation and the reputation of their vehicles had been damaged. The lawsuit was settled out of court in 2004. Under the settlement, Consumer Reports stated that it "never intended to imply that the Samurai easily rolls over in routine driving conditions." Nevertheless, the damage had been done to the model, which was discontinued.
Suzuki continued to innovate and improve with models like the Swift, Sidekick, and Esteem. By the 2000’s market share in the US had begun to shrink. Sales stayed strong through 2008 but dropped by 48.5% in 2009. In 2012 the US division of the carmaker declared bankruptcy and stopped selling cars. Motorcycle, ATV, and marine product sales continued. Despite this setback, Suzuki is still the 10th largest automaker in the world and 2nd largest in Japan. The company continues to have a large presence around the world.
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