Volkswagen-Suzuki Partnership Off to a Rough Start


Volkswagen took a 20-percent stake in Suzuki a year ago, and virtually nothing has come from the alliance since then. The two companies blame cultural differences, but Suzuki hasn’t exactly been open to Volkswagen as they like.

The two company’s goals are different: VW wants to make a dent in the Asian small-car market, while Suzuki wants to tap into VW’s expertise in diesel, hybrid, and electric cars. But like a mismatched couple in a sitcom, Suzuki is demanding more from VW than they’re willing to offer, especially to a company with whom they only hold a minority stake in.

“We are still in a period where we have to establish trust,” said VW CEO Martin Winterkorn. “We here in the western world are sometimes more decisive, [and] the Japanese culture of achieving consensus is difficult.”

“They can’t seriously expect that we give away all our treasures to a partner that we only minority-own,” said another VW executive who chose to remain nameless. Suzuki hasn’t remained transparent enough to VW, he went on to say, and wants more technology from VW’s end.

VW executives are still keen on working with Suzuki, who may have all but disappeared in America but are still selling strongly in the rest of the world. As long as things don’t go hilariously wrong like, say, DaimlerChrysler—given VW’s penchant for snapping up brands like a kid popping M&Ms.

[Source: Motor Trend]