Toshihiro Suzuki, who takes over the mantle from his father Osamu Suzuki, was not the original choice to lead the company.

In fact, Osamu Suzuki had previously attempted to groom his son-in-law Hirotaka Ono to succeed him, but that plan was derailed when Ono died of pancreatic cancer in 2007.

Born Osamu Matsuda, O. Suzuki joined the auto maker in 1958 after marrying into the Suzuki family. During his nearly four decades at the helm, Suzuki turned the loom maker founded by his wife’s grandfather into one of the world’s biggest auto makers. Through its local subsidiary Maruti Suzuki, the company is the top-selling auto maker in India and has a market capitalisation of $18.3 billion, roughly equal to that of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

In 2011, Toshihiro Suzuki, 56, was named one of Suzuki Motor’s four executive vice-presidents, fuelling speculation that he would eventually take the top post.

According to R.C. Bhargava, chairman of the Indian unit, the move augurs well for the Indian operations. “Leadership has to passed to the younger people," Bhargava said in a phone interview on Tuesday. “The Indian operations will look for continuity in policies and strategies."

Toshihiro Suzuki has been on the board of Maruti since 2013. “T. Suzuki has been quite involved in the Indian operations for the last two years, attending all the board meetings and important announcements," Bhargava said.

In an interview to Mint in January, Toshihiro Suzuki said that India remains a very big market for the company. “We would like to hold 50% market share if possible... it’s tough," he said.

Toshihiro Suzuki is also considered to be the brain behind the firm’s expansion in Gujarat from where the company plans to export automobiles to Africa, its next big bet.

Reuters contributed to this story.

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