12 December 2009 ~ 0 Comments

Volkswagen establishes a ‘comprehensive partnership’ with Suzuki

Will the next Volkswagen Polo and Suzuki Swift be spun off the same platform?

On Wednesday of this week, Volkswagen’s plan for world domination came a step closer. The company signed a ‘common understanding’ to establish a close and long-term strategic partnership. It came out of the blue for sure, with initial rumblings only appearing in last month’s motoring press. The German giant states that each party will respect the other’s independence, but that both companies are focused on ‘achieving synergies in the areas of rapidly-growing markets as well as in the development and manufacturing of innovative and environmentally friendly compact cars.’

The plan is simple. For now, Volkswagen will purchase 19.9% of Suzuki’s issued shares, expected to be completed in January 2010. Suzuki will then invest up to one half of the amount received from VW into the German car maker. The two will then form a long-term strategic partnership which should enable them to offer a ‘compelling solution’ for customers both buying their first car and those who want to downsize and reduce their carbon footprint. It could be a canny move on Volkswagen’s behalf.

What does it mean? Well, essentially, Suzuki predominantly has a good foothold in the growing south east Asian market and India, where it is a past master at selling small cars. Although the Polo is now a recognised face in China and Japan (and will soon be launched on the Indian market), a baby car-shaped boost wouldn’t do any harm to Volkswagen’s reputation. And, depending on how far down the development road the new Small Car Family of sub-Polo cars is, Suzuki could provide valuable expertise.

Of course, what’s more important to us, is whether the new Suzuki Swift and next-generation Polo will share platforms and be jointly-developed. It won’t happen immediately for both companies – Volkswagen has only just let the new Polo take its first steps in the world, and the Japanese company has a new Swift coming soon, which is currently in the final stages of development. One of the best phrases in the issued press release is ‘exciting cars’, which could of course mean many things from improved driving dynamics to cutting-edge tech.

What it means for the sixth-generation Polo is unclear. A jointly-developed supermini could do wonders for the small German’s personality, giving it a more cheerful and sparky character, while upping the Swift’s quality and image at the same time. One of the questions that could be asked is whether the VW Group can support another small car, what with the forthcoming Audi A1, the Škoda Fabia, SEAT Ibiza, and Polo all spun off one platform. It’ll be one deal to keep a close eye on. Volkswagen Polift or Suzuki Swilo anyone?

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