~Since 2004~
A site about memories, thoughts, photos, and unrepentant opinions about motorcycles and motorcycling after four decades of twisting the throttle.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Volkswagen and Suzuki Do The Deed



I don't usually comment much on the motorcycle news stuff, there are other blogs that specialize in that so why duplicate the effort? However, Volkswagen AG and Suzuki Motor Corp. announced today that VW are buying a chunk of Suzuki and since I spent the best part of three decades laboring in the trenches for VW in the USA and once or twice have owned a Suzuki motorcycle I am then, of course, perfectly qualified to comment on the VW+Suzuki tie up -- or at least more qualified than most of the dunderheads who leave comments in various automotive forums and news sites.

The "Why?" of the VW purchase most likely has to do with VW's desire to use Suzuki's strong presence in the Asian and Indian markets to VW's advantage and to leverage Suzuki's small car (low cost) expertise. What Suzuki gets is some expertise in how to build a car with an interior that isn't crap plus assorted other technological insights. I could offer more thoughts on all that, even rant a little, but this is a motorcycle blog, not a car blog.

I doubt that the motorcycle aspect of Suzuki's business holds any significant interest for VW beyond the fact that some of VW's top management, including Dr. Ferdinand Piech, who are motorcycle enthusiasts could more easily get Suzuki motorcycles, probably for free. Since Dr. Piech is a billionaire and owns a chunk of Porsche SE, getting free motorcycles may or may not be important to him.

I believe Dr. Piech is a Ducati fan and the other VW people of various levels that I have talked with over the years seem to prefer either Ducati or Japanese sport bikes. Those home grown BMWs seem not to be favored when I've brought them up and still retain their slang name "Gummikuh" or "rubber cow" to the folks with whom I've spoken. Now, BMW have moved well beyond their "rubber cow" handling and performance days but I believe the perception that the Japanese and Italians make better performance bikes still persists. The new BMW S1000RR sport bike may change that though.


Dr. F. Piech, Chairman of the Board of VWAG ponders
the hidden benefits of buying 20% of the Suzuki Motor Corp.


So don't look for a VW badged motorcycle any time soon or a Suzuki cruiser with a VW engineered 1800cc TDi diesel V-twin engine in it either. I wish it were going to happen because VW has a great sales and lease programs for it's employees and retirees and I'd love to be able to get a new bike every year without actually having to buy and sell the darned things myself at my usual huge loss.

2 comments:

Jac Brown said...

Now that VW bought the controlling interest in Porche', its just another division of VW like suzuki. Apparently, they are quite separate divisions, however, so I don't fear for the motorcycle division of Suzuki. I just spent most of the week tuning Routans with Hr. Kwasny of VW and he talked about each of the car divisions having their own product teams. If a Skoda can be a Skoda, then we have hope that a GXSR can be a Gixxer.

Doug K. said...

Jac,

I don't think Porsche will ever see itself as just another division of VW. Brand pride is alive and well at each VW division and runs deep at Audi and is almost impenetrable at Porsche.

Hr. Kwasny is correct. Having done test work for all of the VWAG divisions I can tell you that there is more autonomy and even some rivalry between them than people suspect. Dr. Piech & Dr. Winterkorn and the other top brass give the directions and goals but each division seems to be free to express it's own uniqueness so that while there may be platform sharing going on, a Skoda is decidedly different from a VW as from a SEAT and certainly from an Audi.

To me it was always remarkable how little the divisions cooperated with one another unless they were forced to so I expect Suzuki will go about it's merry way and probably do well utilizing the influx of VW technology while very much retaining it's own identity. I think Suzuki will prove to be another good buy for VW.

I just wish I could now get a new Suzuki M109 on the company lease plan!

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