Osamu Suzuki: An Era Spanning Nearly Five Decades  – ZigWheels
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Cars and Bikes - March 7, 2021

Osamu Suzuki: An Era Spanning Nearly Five Decades – ZigWheels

 

After nearly a mammoth five decades at the helm, the Chairman of Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC), Osamu Suzuki, will retire in June 2021. His son, Toshihiro Suzuki, who currently serves as the president, will take over the reins. This decision comes nearly a year after Suzuki Motor Corporation celebrated 100 years of existence on March 15, 2020. So you could say it signifies the end of a long and illustrious era. 

At 91, Osamu Suzuki was instrumental in making Suzuki one of the world’s largest carmakers, especially in the mass market segment. Osamu’s retirement is an even bigger deal for the Indian auto industry as it owes him for the success of several mass market segments.  

Osamu Suzuki started at Suzuki all the way back in 1958 when he joined the company founded by his wife’s grandfather, Michio Suzuki. The founder was well known for his philosophy of doing whatever it took to cater to customer demands. Osamu Suzuki took that to a new level after working his way up and taking over the reins as the fourth president of SMC in 1978.  

Suzuki was the key figure in transforming the company into one of the largest small car manufacturers in the world. He did that using a strategy called marketing by diplomacy. He frequently travelled across the world to find prospective markets for his small cars and forge partnerships, sometimes with government entities.

The crowning jewel in his career has to be bringing the Suzuki brand to India and making it a household name. In 1982, he played a key role in forming a joint venture with the government of India to launch Maruti Udyog Limited. Keep in mind, this was a time when the Indian auto industry was dominated by the likes of the ‘tank-like’ Hindustan Motors Ambassador and the Premier Padmini. 

 

By 1983, production of Suzuki cars under Maruti Udyog Limited commenced with the birth of its first model the iconic 800. It set the tone for low-cost cars in the country. It was a no-nonsense pint-sized vehicle that was fuel efficient, zippy, and most of all, an affordable offering. So you could say Osamu was the father of the iconic 800. 

The success of Suzuki in India led to a majority stake in Maruti Udyog Ltd India in 2002. Osamu Suzuki’s realm also saw plenty of other successful Maruti models carrying a similar low-cost philosophy. This includes the Alto, WagonR, as well as the carmaker’s first world strategic model, the Swift. All these models are hot sellers in their respective segments to this day. Another notable contribution by Osamu Suzuki was helping forge the Maruti-Toyota alliance, which has given us the Glanza hatchback and the Urban Cruiser SUV. 

Thanks to Osamu Suzuki’s leadership, Maruti Suzuki continues to dominate sales charts in India with a market share of around 50 percent in the auto industry. Overall, the Indian auto industry owes quite a lot to the retiring chairman.

 

Suzuki Motor Corporation’s next chapter in India will focus on a push for electrification, with full development and implementation of technologies by 2025. 

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