Suzuki Motor Corporation is a Japanese multinational corporation that specializes in manufacturing compact automobiles, a full range of motorcycles, All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs), outboard marine engines, wheelchairs and a variety of other small internal combustion engines. Suzuki is the 12th largest automobile manufacturer in the world by production volume, employs over 45,000 people, has 35 main production facilities in 23 countries and 133 distributors in 192 countries.
''Suzuki'' is pronounced in Japanese as ''soo-zoo-kee'' /suzuki/, with emphasis on a high ''kee''. It is almost always Anglicized as ''suh-ZOO-kee'' /s__zu_ki/, with a stressed ''zoo''. This pronunciation is used by the English-speaking public and by the Suzuki company in marketing campaigns directed towards this demographic.
American Suzuki headquarters is located in Brea, California. Through an agreement with General Motors, Suzuki began selling a version of their Suzuki Cultus in United States as the Chevrolet Sprint in 1985. This model was initially sold as a 3-door hatchback and would be Chevrolet's smallest model.
The Samurai was also introduced in 1985 for the 1986 model year and was the first car introduced to the United States by the newly created American Suzuki Corp. No other Japanese company sold more cars in the United States in its first year than Suzuki. The Samurai was available as a convertible or hardtop and the company slogan was Never a Dull Moment. The Samurai was successful until Consumer Reports alleged the Samurai of being susceptible to roll over in a 1988 test.
In 1989, American Suzuki introduced the Swift which was the 2nd generation Suzuki Cultus. The Swift was available as a GTi and GLX hatchback with a 4-door sedan following in 1990. A new small SUV called the Sidekick was also introduced in 1989. 1991 saw the introduction of the 4-door Suzuki Sidekick, the first 4-door mini-SUV in North America. The Swift and Sidekick were cousins to GM's Geo Metro and Geo Tracker and were mostly produced in Ingersoll, Canada by Suzuki and GM's joint venture, CAMI. The Swift GT/GTi and 4-door models were imported from Japan. Negative evaluations from Consumer Reports of the Suzuki Samurai led to some temporary setbacks at American Suzuki as annual sales in the following years dropped to below 20,000 units.
In 1995, American Suzuki introduced the Esteem and redesigned the Swift. The Swift GT was dropped and this version Swift was specific only to North America where it was built at CAMI. These models were the first Suzuki vehicles to be marketed in North America with dual front airbags. A stationwagon version of the Esteem was introduced in 1996. Worldwide Suzuki production reached more than 975,000 cars this year.
Also in 1996, American Suzuki released the 2-door SUV X-90 and a revised Sidekick Sport model with dual airbags, a 120hp 1.8-liter engine, 16'' wheels and two-tone paint. The Sidekick was replaced by the Vitara and the Grand Vitara for 1999. The Grand Vitara would be Suzuki's first model with a V6-cylinder engine and available 4-wheel ABS brakes.
The Grand Vitara XL-7 was introduced in 2001 as a stretched version of the Grand Vitara. The Grand Vitara XL-7 had a larger 2.7 liter V6-cylinder engine and 3-row seating. This would be Suzuki's largest vehicle to date and the first compact SUV to offer 3-row seating.
The Swift was dropped from the model lineup in 2001 and the Esteem was replaced in 2002 by the new Aerio. The Aerio was offered as a 4-door sedan and 5-door crossover with 4-wheel-drive as an option.
In 2004, General Motors and Suzuki jointly purchased the bankrupt Daewoo Motors renaming the venture GMDAT. American Suzuki rebadged the compact Daewoo Nubira/Daewoo Lacetti as the Forenza and the mid-size Daewoo Magnus as the Verona. The Forenza gained stationwagon and hatchback body style in 2005, with the hatchback sold under the Reno name.
2006 was the first year American Suzuki sold more than 100,000 vehicles in the United States. Suzuki redesigned the Grand Vitara in 2006 as well as introduced the all-new Suzuki SX4 and Suzuki XL7 in 2007. The Suzuki SX4 is produced as a joint venture with Fiat S.p.A. and the Suzuki XL7 (notice the shortening of the name from Grand Vitara XL-7) is produced as a joint venture with GM at CAMI Automotive Inc. in Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada.
Despite a difficult domestic US automarket, Suzuki has been keeping pace with its 2007 sales numbers including recording their best May ever in May 2008.