Yes, that’s true, according to Autocar India, who revealed that Wolfsburg has identified two models from the Maruti Suzuki range that it wants to rebadge as their own. The magazine’s sources said that Maruti, Volkswagen and Skoda India officials looked at the possibility of putting a VW badge on the A-star (Suzuki Alto to us) and a Skoda emblem on the high roofed WagonR in a meeting.
If you don’t already see the connection, let us connect the dots. Last December, Volkswagen bought 19.9% of Suzuki for US$2.5 billion to start “a comprehensive partnership” with the small car expert. It is without doubt that Suzuki’s huge presence in India – where there’s plenty of scope for growth and Maruti Suzuki holds close to 50% market share – made it an attractive proposition to VW, which has dreams of surpassing Toyota as the world’s top carmaker.
When they announced the deal, VW and Suzuki said they were “focused on achieving synergies in the areas of rapidly growing emerging markets as well as in the development and manufacturing of innovative and environmentally friendly compact cars.”
Autocar India further said that high level cooperation between VW and Suzuki has already begun and an organisation structure has been put in place for regular interactions between teams from Wolfsburg and Hamamatsu to work together. The Germans want the rebadging exercise to start ASAP, targeting for the “new” A-star and WagonR to be in showrooms as early as 2012.
There won’t be a unique dashboard or sheetmetal, just new lights, bumpers and grilles, which means that the Euro badged cars will still look very much like the Suzuki originals. Would the differentiation come under the hood then? Maruti doesn’t have its own diesel engines and currently purchases them from Fiat, but it’s argued that it will be cheaper to continue doing so, even after factoring in license fees, as the Multi-jet is highly localised.