The Suzuki-Volkswagen Divorce Goes Into The Dirty Laundry Phase

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

Divorces usually get messy when there is money involved. The Suzuki vs. Volkswagen case is no exception. There are irreconcilable differences. Suzuki wants out, Volkswagen would like to swallow Suzuki whole. The rest are accusations and counter-accusations that are as interesting as divorce papers. In the last days, the Kabuki dace went into a new phase as both sides ratchet up their rhetoric.

On Friday, Suzuki Executive Vice President Yasuhito Harayama complained in a news conference: “We were promised easy access to VW’s environmental car technologies, but it never became a reality.” According to Reuters, “Suzuki served VW with a notice of breach of contract, demanding the German company give it access to key technologies within weeks. Unless it does so, Suzuki’s biggest shareholder must sell back its stake and quit the alliance.”

In Wolfsburg, Volkswagen told The Nikkei [sub] that VW is not holding back, and that Suzuki is misunderstanding the situation. Just to be sure, Volkswagen says that “We keep our legal options open and will decide over further steps once we’ve examined them.“

Of course, it’s pure rhetoric on both sides. Suzuki already had remarked that Volkswagen doesn’t have much in terms of electric car technologies, and that most is owned by Bosch. It remains without saying that all legal options are always open.

Like modern day divorcees, both hope for relief by counseling. “We hope that we can talk with Martin Winterkorn as soon as possible,” Harayama told the Nikkei.

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.

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  • Th009 Th009 on Oct 15, 2011

    In July, Osamu Suzuki said VW told them about technology, but VW had nothing interesting: "We learnt about Volkswagen’s technologies, but we did not find any one of them interesting enough to adopt immediately." Now they are saying VW's technology *is* interesting, but VW won't tell them about it? And now they want to enforce the contract rather than terminating it? Who is telling the truth, Suzuki-san or Harayama-san? Or is it all just PR rhetoric, as Bertel says? In either case, Suzuki doesn't have a whole lot of credibility with me at the moment. VW's at least keeping their rhetoric cranked a few notches below Suzuki's. Which would give me cause for concern if I were in Suzuki's shoes.

  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Oct 15, 2011

    I wonder how many cars VW sells in Israel? Fuhrer's spirit continues to live in VW products. When Germans did share their knowledge with partners? Well they can invade, occupy and take stuff over from others but give away? Anyone Chrysler? Only thing I can recall is Saturn rocket but they were forced to.

    • Mike978 Mike978 on Oct 15, 2011

      Stop with the racist stereotyping that dates back 60 plus years ago. No need to invoke Hitler into anything German. Or for consistency you should invoke Japans wartime past which was just as murky, but that is decades ago too so move on.

  • Unhittable curveball Unhittable curveball on Oct 15, 2011

    If your enemy is superior, evade him. If angry, irritate him. If equally matched, fight, and if not split and reevaluate.” -Sun Tzu Osamu Suzuki is one clever guy.

  • Diewaldo Diewaldo on Oct 16, 2011

    It will be interesting to see if Suzuki will survive on its own. They don't have any technology apart from their AWD system. They don't build Diesel engines, no electric cars, no hybrids. The only thing Suzuki does well is sell cheap and build cheaper.