Suzuki: Japan's #2 Mini Truck Maker

Suzuki has been in the mini truck game for a long time, since 1961 in fact, and for 39 years of that, they were the number 1 manufacturer of mini trucks in Japan. So, although Suzuki has lost its crown to Daihatsu in the mini truck sales rankings in recent years, we won't count them out.

Let's rewind back to the beginning to discover how Suzuki got started, and what drew them into the mini truck market.

Suzuki: How did it start?

Like Daihatsu, Suzuki was also founded near the start of the 20th Century (1909, to be exact), and like Toyota, Suzuki started life making looms for factories. Back then, a lot of looms were still made of wood, but Suzuki introduced precision-engineered looms made from metal components to replace them. It was a great step forward, but Suzuki realized that there was a problem with their business model. It turned out that these looms were well-built and much more durable than those they replaced. So the opportunities for repeat business were small in a market that wasn't exactly a large consumer market. What were they to do? Well, they could always apply their technical prowess to other fields. And so Suzuki started off on a process of diversification.

Classic Suzuki Motors logo emblem

From Looms To Automobiles

It wasn't until 1952 that Suzuki made their first real push into the booming world of powered transport with their first motorbike. They must have gotten some momentum going really fast as within 3 years they had also launched into the 4-wheel vehicle market as well. The Suzuki Suzulight you can see below debuted at the 1954 Tokyo Auto Show and went on sale in 1955. From this point, Suzuki grew into the small automobile market thrown open by the 1949 kei (light) vehicle rules created by the Japanese government to stimulate just such growth, while relying on its strong position in the scooter market as a foundation for its business.

Suzuki Suzuklight: Suzuki's first 4-wheel car launched at the 1954 Tokyo Auto Show

The First Suzuki (Suzulight) Carry

With this growing success in the automobile market, Suzuki notice that there was a demand beyond the van version for a proper works truck that could compete and beat the 3-wheeled delivery vehicles that were popular at that time. The boss was on a roll and gave his team just 1 year to come up with the completed design. Not only that, but they would also need a new factory to mass-produce this extra model. The location was chosen and the factory built, ahead of time and also under budget. It was a mammoth task, but they had managed it.

The result was the very first Suzuki Suzulight Carry truck and van (the FB-type) that was launched in October 1961. (The name was shortened to "Carry" for the 3rd generation model):

First generation Suzuki Suzulight Carry truck and van

Suzuki Carry: The King Of The Hill

Suzuki's Carry has now in its 11th generation. As of May 2021, Suzuki had sold 4.67 million Carrys and 3.25 million Every's (the van version of the Carry) -- a total of 7.92 million vehicles sold. And although the Carry ceded the mini truck sales crown until 2010, it was #1 for a record-worthy 39 years prior to that from 1971 to 2009. And Suzuki is the manufacturer many other auto makers now turn to to build mini trucks under their name plates.

And these are just the mini truck models Suzuki sells in Japan. They have also had collaborations with GM and other companies around the world to bring the Carry (albeit with changes, particularly a larger engine) into other markets such as South Korea and India. Suzuki has been able to sell models with the Carry badge in 145 countries around the world. But these aren't the same as the original Japanese mini truck Carry, with it's 660 cc engine.

Postal Suzuki Every & extended cab Suzuki Super Carry

Want to know more about Suzuki mini trucks models?

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Explore the different Suzuki mini truck models in more detail: