Unbeknownst to many, Toyota and Volkswagen had been pretty tight in Japan. Japanese Toyota dealers started selling VWs in 1992. Last year, about half of the 45,522 VWs sold in Japan moved through the shared dealer organization. This helped Volkswagen become Japan’s top import brand for nine years. (Which says a lot about Japan’s import market.) Not only did they share the dealers, Toyota actually has been the distributor for half of the VeeDubs sold in the Land of the Rising Sun. Can’t make stuff like this up.
Now, Volkswagen and Toyota signed the green form (nippophiles know that the green form is for divorce, brown is for marriage.)
Toyota will stop distributing VWs to its domestic dealers by the end of 2010, “due to Volkswagen’s review of its global sales structure,” says the Nikkei [sub]. Which is a polite way of saying “if you Germans want to overthrow Toyota’s rule, you can sell your own cars yourself.”
Which is exactly what will happen. The Japanese customer will not be bothered by the divorce, because Volkswagen will market their products directly through Toyota dealers, in addition to their own sales network. A Toyota spokesman said the termination of the contract wasn’t related to Volkswagen’s recent decision to snuggle-up with Suzuki. It is a joy to be back in the always polite Japan, from which this reporter will file for the next two weeks.