TOKYO – The name “Suzuki” is the most popular surname in Japan and the brand name of the most popular car in India. Suzuki has a market share of 55.6% in the compact and mid-size car market in India, whose middle class, car purchasing public, accounts for 200-300 million of the country’s 1.15 billion people.
For a long time, Indians have used bicycle rickshaws or auto rickshaws for daily transportation. The word “rickshaw” originates from the Japanese word jinrikisha, which literally means “human-powered vehicle.” The fact that Suzuki is now practically synonymous with automobile in India suggests how close the relationship between the two countries can be.
Indeed, India and Japan are natural allies. Their strategic interests are almost perfectly aligned, and each shares a desire to stabilize and preserve Asia’s balance of power. So it is no surprise that Japan is pushing to develop closer economic and strategic ties with India.
Suzuki Motor Corporation first entered the Indian market in 1982, when it started a joint venture with Maruti Udyog, an Indian state-owned firm. Despite many ups and downs – and fierce competition from other major automobile manufacturers, including the Indian giant Tata Motors – Suzuki succeeded in establishing its brand as India’s “people’s car.”