Suzuki surpasses milestone of 25 million kei cars sold

It’s taken 65 years and 7 months, but Suzuki announced on May 11 that it has sold 25 million kei cars. That’s not a huge number compared to, say, the Toyota Corolla, which has sold over 44 million of a single model. However, when you consider the fact that the Corolla is a global model and kei cars are sold almost exclusively inside Japan and a few other Asian countries, that’s a pretty impressive statistic.

Suzuki is a real pro at the kei car game. It all began in October 1955 with the Suzulight, which was in fact Japan’s first kei car. It was also Suzuki’s first foray in to four-wheeled vehicles, and while it wasn’t a hugely popular seller, it did set the company on the path of building cars.

It should come as no surprise that the ubiquitous Carry kei truck was a huge contributor to the sales volume. The little workhorse sold 4.67 million units since its introduction in 1961, and the name is still being used today. The spin-off van on the same platform, the Every, sold another 3.25 million units on its own.

Introduced in 1962, the Suzuki Fronte was notable for being a top-selling nameplate that is no longer being used. It made it through seven generations but, unlike the models below, was discontinued in 1989. Still, Suzuki managed to sell 1.59 million of them.

April 1970 brought the Jimny, the wildly successful off-road kei car. It was a class-defining model, one that has its own unique fan base. However, Suzuki’s first home run in the kei car segment was the Alto, released May 1979.

It sold for just ¥470,000, a very competitive price at the time. Suzuki originally estimated 5,000 per month, but ended up moving as many as 18,000 a month at its peak with a huge waiting list. Successive generations gave Japan to some real firecrackers in high-performance kei cars. It’s Suzuki’s best-selling nameplate, making up 5.24 million units sold.

The 1993 Wagon R was the second-most popular model in Suzuki’s history, selling 4.81 million units. It revolutionized kei car design, pioneering the space-maximizing tall wagon shape that dominates the segment today.

And finally, the Suzuki Spacia added 1.01 million to the total. This is particularly impressive considering that it was introduced in 2013, meaning it has the shortest production run of all the million-plus models.

Suzuki may not be the first company you think of when it comes to Japanese cars, but it sells more vehicles in Japan annually than Subaru, Mazda, or Mitsubishi. Kei cars are an essential part of Japan’s automotive landscape, providing easy ownership in both crowded urban environments and rural areas where public transportation isn’t available. And since kei cars are built to strict dimensions, we can calculate pretty easily that if you parked all 25 million Suzuki kei cars nose to tail, they would circumnavigate the Earth 2.1 times. That’s a lot of kei cars any way you cut it.

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3 Responses to Suzuki surpasses milestone of 25 million kei cars sold

  1. Negishi no Keibajo says:

    For a marque known for plucky Kei cars, they’ve had some awesome concept cars. The GSX-R/4 is probably my favorite followed by the more conventional Kizashi. The closest to a R/4 would be their collaboration with Mazda with the Autozam AZ-1.

  2. RX626 says:

    A great “little” giant of Japan.
    They are heroes who have always made cars for the masses, and craftsmen who have created high performance models, full-scale 4x4s, and even amazing mini-trucks within the confines of a kei car.

    Unlike motorcycles, their feats in the automotive world are not well known outside of Japan.
    But they, like Toyota and Nissan, are undoubtedly great manufacturers who have contributed to the development of Japan.
    The automotive industry is in the midst of changes for a new era, and I am sure they will continue to exist as professionals in the field of kei cars.

  3. Mark F Newton-John says:

    The only reason kei cars even exist is the tax structure in Japan. I bet the Democrats would love to do the same here to tax the shit out of cars larger than 1 liter. But we ‘Murica S live out big-ass SUVs and pickups. ?
    Loved Suzuki cars before they pulled out of the US, always wanted one of their Swift GTi back in the 80s, and the Kizashi.

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