Colin-on-Cars – Suzuki celebrates its centenary

Suzuki is celebrating its centenary and the company in South Africa has launched a website where travellers can share their Suzuki adventures.

The site is located at This interactive website allows you to post your adventure and others to vote for their favourite. The top 100 adventures will live on Suzuki Go 100, which is also jam-packed with interesting information about Suzuki’s history and product range.

The history

When a young and ambitious Michio Suzuki officially registered the Suzuki Loom Manufacturing Company in 1920, he surely could not have foreseen it would become a global automotive, motorcycle and marine powerhouse 100 years later.

Michio Suzuki and the Development Team

In much the same way, when Suzuki Auto South Africa, which represents all three divisions in South Africa, opened its doors in February 2008, the company could not have predicted it would be a top six best-selling brand as the centenary celebrations rolled round.

“We are humbled by the way South Africans have readily accepted Suzuki into their lives. In June 2008, our first month of sales, we sold 230 units and by October this year, we hit a new record of 2 032 units, while being South Africa’s fastest-growing brand several times during the past decade,” says André Venter, divisional manager for sales and marketing at Suzuki Auto South Africa.

On its way and in its first year of operation, the Swift and SX4, both launched a mere six months earlier, were nominated for the SAGMJ Car of the Year competition.

“Over the past decade, we have been privileged to see almost all our models receive a Car of the Year nomination, including the previous and current generation Swift, the SX4, the Alto, the Kizashi, the Ciaz, Ignis and Jimny. It culminated in the 2019 Car of the Year Awards, where the Swift and Jimny won the category prizes for best Compact and Lifestyle Utility vehicles respectively,” says Venter.

“While our range of passenger vehicles and SUVs has taken more than its fair share of awards, our Motorcycle and Marine divisions have performed equally well,” says Venter. Suzuki Auto merged with Suzuki Motorcycle and Suzuki Marine in April 2014.

Suzuki outboard motors has received the NMMA Innovation Award a total of nine times. Eight of these awards have been for four-stroke outboard motors, which is the largest number of awards in the engine category in the industry.

The Marine division continued its successful sales history in South Africa and at the end of August 2020 reached 47,3% market share in 4-stroke outboard sales in South Africa.

Suzuki as it exists today was born from Suzuki Loom Manufacturing, which was started in 1920. From these early days, the founder, Michio Suzuki, had his sights set on diversification and specifically on automobiles and motorcycles, which he saw as a way of helping his countrymen become more productive and prosperous.

The first Suzuki vehicle prototype was launched in 1937, but the commercialisation was put on hold when the Second World War broke out.

Fortunately, the plans were never abandoned and in 1954 Suzuki assigned a team of young and energetic engineers to the automobile project, which in 1955 – a mere year later – led to the introduction of the Suzulight.

“The Suzulight laid the foundation for all future Suzuki models, offering a light, affordable, frugal and durable car that made quality motoring accessible to all. In much the same way, the Suzuki Power Free powered bicycle of 1953 set us on a course to become a global motorcycle brand; it was in our DNA from the very start,” says Venter.

In 1970, it launched an all-electric version of its Suzuki Carry Van, which was designed by Giorgetto Giugiario. This was also the year that the world was introduced to the Jimny, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

Suzuki Jimny

In 1975, Suzuki again made headlines when its motorcycle division launched the RE-5, a rotary-engined motorcycle with previously unheard off performance figures, and in 1979, it launched the world’s first hydrogen-powered vehicle.

In later years, the biking world was stunned with Suzuki’s introduction of its futuristic GSX1100S Katana. The bike’s aggressive styling and superb performance made it a huge sales success, both globally as well as in South Africa. Its impact was so great, that Suzuki continued development on this model and introduced the latest GSXS1000S Katana in 2018. Suzuki broke the mould once again with the unveiling of the GSX1300R Hayabusa in 1999. This iconic motorcycle was the fastest production motorcycle in its time.

Suzuki Hayabusa

Suzuki Motorcycles is also synonymous in the world of motorcycle racing and to date have proved that they are a force to be reckoned with. The brand has won 16 FIM Superbike world Endurance titles and since their reintroduction into the MotoGP scene have racked up a number of podiums and wins.

“While Suzuki has earned its place in the history books for its innovative products, it is still best known as the Japanese maker of affordable, compact, stylish and reliable vehicles. While all our products share this DNA, it is the Swift and Jimny that perhaps best encapsulate this,” says Venter.

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