Inspiration for a bright future
THE world has one man to thank for the classy cars coming from Suzuki. The late Hirotaka Ono was a visionary who reinvented the Japanese brand and changed everything, from boosting the quality of its cars to creating a can-do attitude among senior managers that’s essential for success.
Ono, who died at the end of 2007, had a giant advantage because he was married to company founder Osama Suzuki’s daughter.
He was able to use his family connection to ramrod a range of changes that would have been impossible for anyone else, especially a fortysomething revolutionary in a country that usually puts age and experience ahead of youth and enthusiasm.
The award-winning Suzuki Swift is an Ono car. So is the current Grand Vitara and the Kizashi.
Suzuki Australia managing director Tak Hayasaki says: ‘‘Thanks to Mr Ono we have learnt what we can do. He inspired us.’’
Hayasaki has his own challenges in trying to lift Suzuki’s share of Australia’s car sales from 2.4 per cent to 6 per cent, but he knows he has the strongest line-up in the company’s history.
Kizashi is the game-changer, the same as the first Mazda6 and Accord Euro were for Mazda and Honda, combining Euro-type driving enjoyment with Japanese quality.
This week Suzuki adds an all-wheel-drive car to the Kizashi line, the Sports, and believes it can boost its sales by 100 cars a month. That’s 50 per cent of current volume.
It’s a big call for a car that already goes head to head with Mazda6 and Euro and now faces the might of the Subaru Liberty, the car that convinced Australians about all-wheel drive.