Interview: Suzuki President on turbo-charged revival plans

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“Turbos are part of Suzuki’s future plans” Toshihiro Suzuki, President and CEO of Suzuki

With Suzuki showing strong signs of emerging from a period of instability and new-model market invisibility in a post 2008 economic meltdown world, now felt like the perfect time to talk to Toshihiro Suzuki, President and CEO of Suzuki Motor Corporation, Japan.

MCN: What has been wrong with Suzuki recently and how do you plan to change and improve the company?

TS: After the financial crisis in 2008 there was a big shift of focus within Suzuki to move more towards the smaller capacity markets in Asia, which is partly the reason for the drop in European new models. Now, starting with the GSX-R models, our focus is on the fun of motorcycles – run, turn and stop – which we believe is a strength of Suzuki. From now on we will build on this strength and always pursue the fun side of motorcycles.


MCN: How will you achieve this?

TS: We will develop motorcycles in series – the GSX-S, V-Strom, GSX-R, Burgman – but having the core of fun of motorcycling in each series.

MCN: Does that mean a focus on the European market again?

TS: We are not saying specifically which market, but we are concentrating our focus on big bike segments. Through this focus we believe we can build the uniqueness of Suzuki which will cascade down to the smaller capacity models.

MCN: What is unique about Suzuki?

TS: We have built innovative bikes such as the Gamma, Katana and Hayabusa in the past and in the future we will develop a few bikes that do not sit in a series and are very unique. That is our uniqueness so please wait and expect something innovative from us soon, our engineers are full of ideas and the success of the MotoGP project has allowed us to rediscover their capabilities and built their confidence.

MCN: Suzuki have shown turbocharged concept engines and electric motorcycles, will these go into production?

TS: Turbos are part of Suzuki’s future plans, and so are electric bikes. At the moment the infrastructure is not in place for electric bikes in developing countries, but we are certainly considering them. As a car manufacturer, we are also looking at links between car and motorcycle technology and we believe that connectivity between vehicles is definitely happening.

MCN: Retro bikes are currently very popular in Europe, will Suzuki make models to meet this demand?

TS: We understand the demand and we see the retro boom, and have considered such models, but our first focus is on the GSX-R1000 and creating a series of motorcycles using this technology.

MCN: Will Suzuki return to WSB racing with a factory-backed team?

TS: It is under consideration. First we want to launch the new GSX-R1000 into the market and after we have received customer feedback, we will consider a return to WSB.

MCN: Four years ago Yamaha’s senior management stood up and admitted they had failed to meet customer expectations. Since that point the company has been totally rejuvenated. Can Suzuki replicate this achievement?

TS: Yes we can, and yes we will do. Maybe Yamaha will have achieved it a little bit quicker, but we will definitely replicate their success.


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