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Suzuki re-channels efforts and resources for centennial to provide help to the communities amid COVID-19 pandemic

In an automotive world where the noisy (in the literal and figurative sense) get much of the attention, it’s easy for the public to overlook the few quiet ones reaching a milestone.

One of those quiet ones has been Suzuki, that motorbike and carmaker that also began as a family-owned loom-making business a century ago.

But don’t mistake its unassuming, serious figure as also being a “killjoy”. The Suzuki global image has largely been shaped by its fun, easygoing design philosophy. Paolo Tumminelli, author of “Car Design Asia: Myths, Brands, People”, mentioned in particular the SJ mini jeep, which introduced the masses to the fun side of 4×4 vehicles.

Auto expert Tony Lewin, author of the “AZ of 21st Century Cars”, wrote that Suzuki has achieved success by sticking to what it knows best: Small cars, small 4x4s, and by making itself invaluable to other automakers by providing them with a handy supply of off-the-shelf models to fill the gap in their lineups.

This year, amidst the global CoViD-19 pandemic, Suzuki Philippines Inc (SPH) has announced that its parent Suzuki Motor Corp, Japan’s fourth largest automaker, is observing its 100th anniversary. SPH, for its part, is now on its 35th year, and is the only integrated automotive company in Asia that carries both the automobile and motorcycle, as well as its outboard motor products.

In an online interview with Inquirer Motoring, Keiichi Suzuki, SPH’s vice president and general manager for Automobile, shares the company’s sentiments and aspirations in a time of an immense public health crisis.

Inquirer Motoring: What are your thoughts on the company’s 100th year? How was it celebrated?

Suzuki: Our centennial anniversary is definitely a milestone for us in SPH as there are only a significant number of automobile, as well as motorcycle, companies that reach this kind of milestone. We are proud and humbled to be able to claim that through the years, we have maintained a strong brand presence globally that has allowed us to foster a strong and long-term relationship with our customers. This milestone allows us to continue the Filipino community’s way of life by providing them the best quality vehicles that offer not just ease in transportation, but lifestyle options as well.

As for celebrations, we have chosen to put aside grand gestures to honor the centennial. We decided to re-channel our efforts and resources to provide help to the community like providing vehicles to help transport frontliners in cooperation with the Department of Transportation (DOTr). We believe that in time, when we are on the recovery, we will be given the chance to celebrate not only as a company, but together as a global nation.

Inquirer Motoring: Looking at the bigger picture, from your perspective, how much has the local pandemic set the local auto industry back?

Suzuki: The pandemic has taken a toll on not just the auto industry but in different businesses, and even all aspects of our lives. This crisis has made a dent on the global economy and unfortunately, like most of the world, we were not spared by the effects brought on by CoViD-19. The challenging situation that most businesses are in now is inevitable considering that people in general are focused more on dealing with the crisis on a day-to-day basis.

Despite all of the current and impending changes in all our lives, we in SPH have chosen to take it as a greater challenge on how to innovate with the changing times, offer the same level of service to customers –if not greater, and of course find ways to work with the industry to rebuild and be more active and responsible members of our communities. The next few months will be on finding solutions and alternatives to regain what is lost, and move towards building a stronger foundation and in living up to the heritage of the past 100 years.

Inquirer Motoring: How will Suzuki rise to the challenge? Do you see any silver lining in this?

Suzuki: We, the entire Suzuki brand, are one with the community in overcoming these challenging times and in helping the country move forward. Last April 15, we happily turned over 10 commercial vehicles to DOTr for the use of frontline health workers, and one Super Carry CV allocated for logistics and delivery use. This is our way of showing our great support and appreciation to them who have continuously worked hard amidst this ongoing situation.

For our customers, we are in the process of seeking alternative ways to cater to their needs specifically in customer service and in sales. With this, we plan to maximize our resources in other channels that will allow us to be more accessible to our clients and to those who want to know more about our products and services. This pandemic made us realize that we can and will always find solutions to cope with what comes our way provided that we hold dear the very core and philosophy of what Suzuki stands for.

Inquirer Motoring: What would you like to say to your customers, stakeholders, and employees?

Suzuki: We in SPH will always maintain and continue to champion the Suzuki Way of Life! As a reliable partner, the welfare, safety, and security of our stakeholders, most especially our customers and the community, are at the forefront of our being. They can expect our commitment to them is embodied not only in our vehicles, but through our efforts to bring about a better life as well.

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