Suzuki After World War II
World War II put a halt to all major civilian car production as the Japanese government deemed them to be non-essential commodities. This stopped Suzuki's plans until after the war and the company went back to producing looms full time. When the cotton market collapsed in 1951, Suzuki turned his thoughts back to motor vehicles, both motorcycles and lightweight cars. In 1954, the company changed its name to the Suzuki Motor Company, Ltd. in line with its change in industry focus.
For several years, Suzuki successfully produced motorcycles before launching its first car, the Suzuki Suzulight. This car was sold only in Japan and was produced from 1955 until 1969. In 1963, Suzuki opened a sales subsidiary in Los Angeles under the company name, U.S. Suzuki Motor Corporation. As this was a direct sales subsidiary of the parent company, any Suzuki vehicles sold in America were imported and not built in the U.S.
Suzuki in America
In 1985, the Suzuki of America Automotive Corporation was established. With the formation of this company, Suzuki launched the Samurai, the first vehicle officially marketed by Suzuki in the U.S. While this was a new car in the U.S. market, Suzuki was producing them since 1968. The Samurai, or the SJ413 as it was known in other markets, was classed as a mini SUV. It had seating for two and came in a convertible or hardtop version. This vehicle was extremely popular due to its excellent off-road performance and reliability. The Samurai was withdrawn from American and Canadian markets in 1995 and replaced by the Suzuki Sidekick.
In 1986, the American Suzuki Motor Corporation (ASMC) was created through the merger of Suzuki of America Automotive Corporation and the U.S. Suzuki Motor Corporation. Prior to the official launch of the Samurai, Suzuki had been selling a version of its Cultus model as the Chevrolet Sprint through an agreement with General Motors in 1985. It was a three-door hatchback and was the smallest model available from Chevrolet. The ASMC released the second generation of the Cultus as the Suzuki Swift in 1989.
The Swift was launched in 1990 as a three- or five-door hatchback and a four-door sedan version. The Cultus was replaced by the first generation of Suzuki Swifts in 2000. Both three- and five-door hatchback versions were available with automatic or manual transmission. The Swift was launched at the same time as the Suzuki Sidekick, which had a two-door convertible or hardtop off-road vehicle. In 1991, a four-door version was also released. The Sidekick underwent a facelift in 1996 and a Sport version was launched at this time. The Sidekick Sport was short lived and replaced by the Grand Vitara in 1999, which is currently in its third generation.
The Suzuki Esteem was launched by the ASMC in 1995 to replace the Swift four-door sedan. In 1996, a station wagon version of the Esteem was introduced to the market. These were short-lived vehicles as they were replaced in 2002 by the Aerio that had a four-door sedan and a five-door crossover SUV variation with all-wheel drive. In 2001, the Swift was dropped from the North American market. The launch of the SX4 ended production of the Aerio.
Suzuki Products and Technologies
The current models available from Suzuki include the Kizashi, SX4, Grand Vitara and Equator. The Kizashi is a midsize four-door sedan that has been available since 2010. In Japanese, Kizashi means warning or omen, so it is thought that this name was used as a means of suggesting that great things are coming from Suzuki. It is currently the company's flagship sedan.
The Suzuki SX4 is available in three different versions: the sedan, sportback and all-wheel drive crossover. Originally developed as a compact car, the SX4 was first released as a five-door hatchback. The SX4 sedan has a more aerodynamic shape, compared to the sportback and crossover version. The other two versions are five-door hatchbacks. The sportback version went through cosmetic changes, as well as being lower on its suspension than the all-wheel drive version.
The Equator is a midsized pickup truck that is sold by Suzuki, but assembled by Nissan. It is available as a two-door or four-door crew cab version and has been on the market since 2009.