Abdul Milazi

Abdul Milazi

Toshihiro Suzuki, the eldest son of Suzuki Motor Corporation chairman, Osamu Suzuki, and heir apparent to the multimillion rand empire, wants to take over the world.

He was in the country for the launch of two Suzuki compact cars, the Swift and SX4 hatchbacks.

He is a man of very few words - maybe a tad too few for someone in his position of group global marketing executive general manager.

His blank stare gives nothing away and his answers are short and measured, which made interviewing him a bit challenging.

When quizzed on whether the political situation and xenophobic attacks worried him, his simple answer was "no problem".

Speaking through an interpreter, he said although the South African market was recognised globally as being extremely complex and exceptionally competitive, he was confident of the group's local success.

He said Suzuki SA had been importing the company's motorcycles, 4x4s and boat engines for the past 44 years.

"That Suzuki is ranked among the top-selling brands in these segments locally, provides the company with a solid equity platform from which to officially break into the passenger car market," said Suzuki.

He said all three divisions - motor car, motorcycle and marine - were working together to leverage the power and the bold new image of the Suzuki brand, while shaping the future direction and success of the company.

Suzuki was not fazed by the fact that the local car industry has been depressed for the past three years and sales have been plummeting. "We know the market is currently a difficult one but we believe SA has great potential for the future," said Suzuki.

He said the importance of the South African operation in the broader global strategy was evident in the fact that the top local management structure was appointed directly by the parent company.

Suzuki Auto SA managing director Kazuyuki Yamashita moved to the country to head up the new operation after holding several key senior sales and marketing positions within the global Suzuki Auto network, most recently in Canada.

Yamashita is supported by financial assistant, Koji Fujita.