Suzuki Motor Corp’s domestic car sales recently passed the 20 million unit milestone. This was spurred by strong performance in the small vehicle segment – Suzuki sold a total of 624,723 units in Japan last year to claim a 32.7% market share in the small car segment, an increase of 1.1%.

The company is seeing growth elsewhere too. In 2009, Suzuki made 1,479,231 vehicles outside of Japan; a record for the company and a 5.3% jump over 2008. The majority of these were accounted for by Maruti Suzuki in India where it holds a 54% market share of passenger vehicles sold. A master in developing markets, Magyar Suzuki in Hungary, which supplies Europe with the Swift, Splash and SX4, recently celebrated being the domestic market leader for the thirteenth consecutive year.

Suzuki’s car production began in Hamamatsu in October 1955 with the Suzulight pictured above, which was powered by a 360cc two-stroke engine. The company fast gained reputation as a “small car expert” and introduced the Suzulight Carry Pick-up in 1961 and the Fronte 800 City car in 1967. This was followed in 1970 by the introduction of the Jimny, which Suzuki says is the world’s first compact and lightweight 4X4. The debut of the Alto in 1979 cemented Suzuki’s stronghold in Japan’s mini car segment and provided the perfect product to conquer India.