Toyota And VW Part Ways. Say What?

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
toyota and vw part ways say what

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.

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5 of 6 comments
  • FromBrazil FromBrazil on Dec 23, 2009

    Hello Mr. Schmitt! I'd like to second Robert.Walter's comments and also wish you happy holidays and thank you for your very interesting, enlightning and insightful posts. Not to mention your always polite banter w/ your commentators. Case in point, this little tidbit of information. I had no idea this went on. I knew of a similar arrangement between GM and Fiat in Mexico, but since their "divorce" I really don't know if Fiat still has any presence in that country (if they set up their own sales network, if they still use GM's. I guess now w/ Fiat entering the American market and their success in Brazil, their cars could make a splash in Mexico). I also seem to recollect an agreement by which VW sold a Toyota Pickup (the Taro??) under its brand in Europe in the 90s. Seems like VW and Toyota can work together... Anyway what's your take Mr. Schmitt? Do you think VW will now have more success in Japan, or will the going get even tougher?

  • YotaCarFan YotaCarFan on Dec 23, 2009

    It's ironic how one company will do something that seems counterproductive like distributing a competitor's products. Surely, Toyota must have gotten something in return, perhaps the ability to have VW distribute Toyotas in some European country where Toyota lacked a big presence? OT -- IIRC, Toyota used to sell rebadged GM sedans in Japan.

  • ConejoZing ConejoZing on Dec 23, 2009

    "Japanese Toyota dealers started selling VWs in 1992." Now that is pretty crazy. Really - and ironic because 92 is the year of the only Japanese car I've ever had (92 Accord). Somehow I always wondered how VW sold their cars in Japan... so VW was a strange in house brand at the Toyota dealers in Japan!! Is this how Scion was born? This really does underscore just how mainstream Toyota is - especially on their home turf, Japan. VW was probably waiting until the time was right to be crazy enough to try and sell them on their own in Japan.

  • Bertel Schmitt Bertel Schmitt on Dec 23, 2009

    On Christmas in the East: Both Beijing and Tokyo are in full, unabashed Christmas mode. My email and mobile phone text inboxes are flooded with "Merry Christmas" wishes. Beijing and Tokyo are decked out in full Christmas regalia. I thought I had seen everything in terms of Christmas lighting when living down South. Pathetic compared to China. People in stores and on the streets are running around in red Santa hats. The Muzak on the (state owned) China Air flight from Beijing to Haneda (down with Narita!) was full blown Christmas carols, from "Silent Night" all the way to "O come all ye faithful." If you want to escape "Happy Holidays," come to heathen China and Japan.Weird, but true.

    On VW's solo success in Japan: No idea. 40K cars is not much to write home about.

    • Roundel Roundel on Dec 24, 2009

      In Japan... 40K cars is good enough... just ask Hyundai how they are doing in that market.... oh wait.... nevermind.