Volkswagen, Suzuki Tie-Up Reportedly Hampered By Cultural Differences

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We wouldn't say the Volkswagen-Suzuki partnership has gone completely as planned, considering that neither side reportedly has much to show after over more than a year.

The Financial Times reports the German and Japanese automakers have made little progress since joining forces in late 2009, and cultural differences are supposedly primarily to blame. Though Volkswagen is hot on making headway into Asia's small-car market, Suzuki hasn't been as open as VW hoped.

"We are still in a period where we have to establish trust," said Martin Winterkorn, VW CEO. "We here in the western world are sometimes more decisive...the Japanese culture of achieving consensus is difficult."

With an ambitious growth goal in mind, VW is reportedly very anxious over gaining access to Maruti Suzuki, the Suzuki subsidiary that currently holds over half of the Indian auto market. Though Suzuki has been relatively stagnant in the United States, its small cars are strong sellers in other parts of the globe.

Suzuki planned to use its tie-up with VW to gain ground on diesel engines and hybrid and electric vehicles. An anonymous VW executive says a lack of transparency has led to a slow Suzuki, as the Japanese end hasn't acquired as much technology as it wanted.

"They can't seriously expect that we give away all our treasures to a partner that we only minority-own," said the anonymous executive.

Whether any of those plans and ideas come to fruition will have to be revealed at a later time.

Source: Financial Times (Subscription required)

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