Suzuki Swift GLX Facelift 1

Yes, it has been quite some time since we last covered matters regarding the ill-fated Suzuki-Volkswagen tie-up but recent documents from within the Japanese carmaker, uncovered by Automotive News, have provided a more in-depth look into the unravelling of said partnership and the subsequent repercussions.

First, a bit of a history lesson for those who are less familiar with the whole issue. In December 2009, it was announced that the German automotive giant had purchased a 19.9% stake in Suzuki to gain insight into how the carmaker became adept at manufacturing compact budget vehicles for key developing markets such as India, Indonesia and the like.

In return, Suzuki would gain access to Volkswagen’s vast portfolio of technological and drivetrain-related know-how – of which the brand had hoped to incorporate into possible petrol-hybrid variants of its SX4 and Swift models. Also, Suzuki had planned to leverage on Volkswagen’s additional manpower.

With the relationship established, the conditions were set in stone. Volkswagen would reengineer the Suzuki A-Star (known as the Suzuki Alto in Malaysia) for sale in Europe and India while Suzuki would be assigned as the engineering hub for both companies’ compact cars – and that’s where the cracks began to surface.

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Soon enough, the Japanese carmaker began to doubt Volkswagen’s sincerity in upholding the integrity of the alliance – a suspicion made worse when the German giant, then under the leadership of Ferdinand Piech, insisted that it needed to increase its stake to 33% to “facilitate technology transfers.”

The Japanese marque, famous for its fiercely independent stance, refused to give in despite assurances from Volkswagen that the firm had no intentions in taking over Suzuki. The wound of distrust continued to fester with Volkswagen listing Suzuki as an associate and booking the firm’s profits on its annual report – said move was considered by Suzuki as a measure of Volkswagen imposing its control over operations.

In 2011, Suzuki chairman, Osamu Suzuki, publicly confronted Volkswagen, demanding an official split from the failed marriage – even going as far as offering to buy back Volkswagen’s share of the company. Despite a number of measures taken to help diffuse the situation, the two companies are still in the midst of a messy divorce with the International Court of Arbitration. A decision is due to be announced “soon.”