The relationship between automakers Volkswagen and Suzuki is more strained than ever, as the Japanese company appears to be visibly shunning its German counterpart.Is a corporate divorce imminent?
According to Bloomberg, Suzuki has effectively shunned its German partner after Volkswagen referred to Suzuki as an “associate” in its March 2011 annual report. The report also claimed VW could “significantly influence financial and operating policy decisions” at Suzuki. That frustrated the Japanese company, as the partnership was intended for the two automakers to cooperate as equals. Since then, the disagreement has escalated.
Suzuki chairman Osamu Suzukirecently told the Japanese press that he hasn’t found any VW powertrains that he’d like for Suzuki. Instead, the company announced it would buy diesel engines from Italian automaker Fiat, and would pursue other partnerships with different automakers.
Volkswagen reportedly now believes that Suzuki has reneged on its part of the partnership deal by seeking partnerships with Fiat and others. While the company still sees hope for cooperative projects between the two companies, VW chief financial officer Hans Dieter Poetsch has described the tie-up as “under review.”
“Volkswagen is not talking to us,” Osamu Suzuki told Bloomberg. “We have no plans to talk to them.”
Volkswagen first bought a 19.9 percent share of Suzuki in December 2009, ostensibly to permit cooperation between the two automakers. Volkswagen would get an in to the small-car market dominated by Suzuki in places like Asia, while Suzuki could access hybrid and electric-vehicle technology from VW. No such vehicles have so far been announced.
The two companies have publicly feuded all through this year, claiming that cultural differences were preventing them from working together, and that Suzuki wasn’t interested in Volkswagen’s hybrid or electric-car technology. While neither side is ready to call it quits, for now the bickering appears to be preventing Suzuki and Volkswagen from actually sharing any technology or jointly developing any new vehicles.