Michio Suzuki was born in 1887 in the small village of Hamamatsu in Japan. He was the son of a cotton farmer, and he began his career in the production of weaving looms. In 1909, Michio opened the Suzuki Loom Works with the goal of improving the existing design of cotton looms.
Eventually, his efforts led to the production of looms designed for use in the silk industry. The Suzuki Loom Works was restructured in 1920 so that Michio could gain access to the capital he needed to grow his business. It became the Suzuki Loom Manufacturing Company with Michio as its president. For the next three decades, the company produced quality looms, surpassing the competition as well as profit expectations.
His market soon expanded from Japan to India and Southeast Asia, increasing its profitability Manufacturing Company, Michio attempted to diversify his interests in order to realize even greater success. He began with the production of a small car offering a 4-stroke, 4-cylinder engine in 1937. Although he was able to create a few prototypes, his efforts were discontinued at the onset of World War II.
The Japanese government had decided that small cars were not important at that time and ordered production to cease. The 1940s During the 1940s, the Suzuki Loom Manufacturing Company experienced several downturns when business leveled off due to the durability of the looms, which held up against time and usage for decades.
Damage to several plants occurred during the war, and Michio was forced to close them. The main offices were moved to the Takatsuka Plant in 1945 and remain there today. After the war, cotton production increased, creating a temporary improvement in loom sales. By the end of the decade, however, the company was experiencing financial difficulties and labor problems.
The 1950s to 1952, Michio felt that the time had come for a change, and the Suzuki Loom Manufacturing Company began to move into the area of personal transportation. In June of 1952, Suzuki launched the “Power Free,” a motorized bicycle with a 36cc, 2-stroke engine. The bike featured a double-sprocket gear system. This was the beginning of the company as most people know it today – the Suzuki Motor Corporation.
The “Power Free” utilized an innovative design that combined a bicycle with an engine, allowing the rider to choose one of three riding methods. The bike could be ridden using the pedals without motorized assistance, using the pedals and motor at the same time, or using the motor only. In the following year, Suzuki launched the “Diamond Free,” a motorized bike that was entered in several motorcycle competitions.
The “Diamond Free” was fitted with a 60cc, 2-stroke engine. Demand for the bike reached 6,000 units on a monthly basis, propelling the company forward with its plans to succeed in the motorized bike market. In 1954, the company officially changed its name to Suzuki Motor Company, Ltd. By 1955, the company produced the Colleda, a 1255cC, 2-stroke motorcycle.
In October of that year, the company launched the Suzulight, the first mass-produced car. The Suzulight featured a small frame, 4wheel suspension, a 360cc, 2-stroke engine, and front-wheel drive. The second half of the 1950sushered in more changes. Michio stepped down as president in 1957, taking on the role of adviser, and Shunzo Suzuki took over the role of president. In October of 1958, the company officially adopted its well-known corporate emblem of “S.”
In 1959, the company produced a Suzulight commercial vehicle as well as the Colleda Sel Twin, a motorcycle with an electric starter. The 1960s The early 1960s brought additional changes to the company. The Suzuki Loom Works Co. was created to separate loom production completely from the motor vehicle division. In September of 1961, manufacture of the Suzulight Carry began. This lightweight truck had a 360cc, 2-stroke engine.
A new plant was built to handle production. Suzuki entered the Isle of Man Trace in 1962, winning the 50 C-class division, an accomplishment that it repeated the next year. Recognition of the brand stimulated sales, and the company introduced its motorcycles to the United States in 1963 with the creation of a subsidiary for sales, the U.S. Suzuki Motor Corporation, which was based in Los Angeles.