Suzuki, Ready To Get Married

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

Today’s Nikkei [sub] agrees with the TTAC commentariat that Suzuki is overripe for a takeover. “Now that Suzuki has dissolved its joint venture assembly plant with General Motors Co. in Canada, the Japanese automaker, with its long presence in emerging markets and strength in subcompacts, appears an attractive partner for an alliance.”

No kidding. As it has been pointed out by TTAC’s Best & Brightest, Suzuki has what other makers need, and Suzuki needs what other makers have.

Suzuki has India, for starters.

Says the Nikkei: “Suzuki had raced ahead of rivals to kick off local production in such developing countries as India, China and Pakistan. This has driven earnings at the automaker, which today still dominates the Indian market with a 50 percent share. By expanding business in India, the firm’s operating profit in the Asian region overtook its Japanese tally for the first time last fiscal year. “

What does Suzuki need? “The firm faces a growing need to find a partner because of its late start in hybrids, electric vehicles and other environmentally friendly offerings,” says the Nikkei. Greenwashing aside, what Suzuki really needs is size.

With an output of 2.36 million units a year, Suzuki is a tad too small to tough it out with the big boys. Yet, those 2.36 million are more than big enough to make someone like Volkswagen the world’s #1 in an instant. VWs Piech has been long been rumored to be lusting for the attractive Japanese bride.

The Financial Times also weighs in on the matter: “Far more interesting are the advanced negotiations apparently under way between Volkswagen and Suzuki. VW is already Europe’s biggest and is challenging Toyota for the top slot in the world car league. Ferdinand Piëch, VW’s veteran chairman and consummate empire builder, has always said he would like to see the German group controlling 12 brands.”

Muses the FT:

“The deal with the Japanese company would help resolve VW’s Achilles heel. Despite its successes, VW has in recent years struggled to manufacture profitably low-cost small vehicles. Suzuki, by contrast, has long had an impressive record of making small cars profitably and an enviable emerging markets exposure in countries such as India or Indonesia that can only make a partnership even more attractive for VW.”

“In return, the Germans would offer larger car, diesel and electronics expertise and better access to European and US markets to Suzuki. For the Japanese company has struggled to build a strong position in Europe and has had trouble hanging on in the North American market.”

“Mr Piëch would presumably also enjoy undermining some of his biggest rivals by striking a deal with Suzuki. Renault-Nissan, too, is believed to have considered investing in Suzuki and bringing it into its international alliance. “

With whom will the Nipponese beauty walk down the aisle? With the Austro-Teutonic leader of industry with floppy ears and a well-documented appetite for companies and women? Or with the suave French charmer who offers a menage a trois with Renault and Nissan? Stay tuned for the next episode of Nippon Nampa …

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href=""> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href=""> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

More by Bertel Schmitt

Join the conversation
2 of 24 comments
  • The Luigiian The Luigiian on Dec 06, 2009

    The Suzuki SX4 and Grand Vitara are both awesome vehicles. The SX4 lacks nothing, in my opinion. Gorgeous, fuel-efficient and possessing AWD capability. The Suzuki Grand Vitara is also awesome but I'm disappointed in the difficulty in finding one with the four-speed transfer case. I remember last year the local Suzuki lot had a base XSport with four-cylinder engine, four-speed transfer case, and auto. That was awesome. (Then the dealership tried to steer me towards an SX4, since I'm a college student and he apparently figured that I could afford to buy one now. And the Grand Vitara carried a $500 dealer markup because "Suzuki is the fastest-growing carmaker in America" and the dealer wasn't going to back down. No chance I'm going back there.) Anyway, the GV this year is available with fewer choices, and you can only get the four-speed case with V6 and a premium package with sunroof and a bunch of other crap I wouldn't want. Long story short... hmm... I saw some of their cars and thought they were OK? Yeah, I guess that's my point.

  • Bertel Schmitt Bertel Schmitt on Dec 06, 2009

    Not having been close to Renault or Nissan, I cannot make an educatewd contribution.

  • ToolGuy First picture: I realize that opinions vary on the height of modern trucks, but that entry door on the building is 80 inches tall and hits just below the headlights. Does anyone really believe this is reasonable?Second picture: I do not believe that is a good parking spot to be able to access the bed storage. More specifically, how do you plan to unload topsoil with the truck parked like that? Maybe you kids are taller than me.
  • ToolGuy The other day I attempted to check the engine oil in one of my old embarrassing vehicles and I guess the red shop towel I used wasn't genuine Snap-on (lots of counterfeits floating around) plus my driveway isn't completely level and long story short, the engine seized 3 minutes later.No more used cars for me, and nothing but dealer service from here on in (the journalists were right).
  • Doughboy Wow, Merc knocks it out of the park with their naming convention… again. /s
  • Doughboy I’ve seen car bras before, but never car beards. ZZ Top would be proud.
  • Bkojote Allright, actual person who knows trucks here, the article gets it a bit wrong.First off, the Maverick is not at all comparable to a Tacoma just because they're both Hybrids. Or lemme be blunt, the butch-est non-hybrid Maverick Tremor is suitable for 2/10 difficulty trails, a Trailhunter is for about 5/10 or maybe 6/10, just about the upper end of any stock vehicle you're buying from the factory. Aside from a Sasquatch Bronco or Rubicon Jeep Wrangler you're looking at something you're towing back if you want more capability (or perhaps something you /wish/ you were towing back.)Now, where the real world difference should play out is on the trail, where a lot of low speed crawling usually saps efficiency, especially when loaded to the gills. Real world MPG from a 4Runner is about 12-13mpg, So if this loaded-with-overlander-catalog Trailhunter is still pulling in the 20's - or even 18-19, that's a massive improvement.