VW Group boss Martin Winterkorn refuses to comment on row while it is in the courts
29 November 2011

VW Group boss Martin Winterkorn has refused to comment on his firm's legal battle with Suzuki ahead of the Tokyo motor show, but a budget VW Up variant for emerging markets is expected to be developed as a result of the row.

Suzuki and VW are currently at loggerheads after a formal partnership, which included each company taking a stake in the other, turned sour earlier this year. Suzuki is reported to allege VW tried to suppress its interests by representing it as a subsidiary of the VW Group, while VW is said to have been angered when Suzuki signed a deal with Fiat for the supply of diesel engines.

The dispute is now with the ICC International Court of Arbitration, although a resolution could take up to two years according to experts.

While Winterkorn refused to comment, Stephan Gruhsem, General Representative of Volkswagen AG, said: "What is certain is that we will keep our shares in Suzuki. It is no problem how long the court judgement takes, because our worldwide strategy is strong enough to take us to our goals regardless."

The Suzuki partnership was originally agreed as a means of smoothing VW's entry to the Indian budget car market, but Gruhsem said the group now had an alternative strategy.

"The situation with Suzuki is not a problem with our plans in India, or for our small car business; we have already spoken to our colleagues in South America about developing a special Up derivative for emerging markets," he said.

Gruhsem also confirmed that there were no plans for Winterkorn and Suzuki president Osamu Suzuki to meet to discuss their differences during the Tokyo show, even though their stands are next to each other.

Earlier today Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne suggested he'd be interested in a wider partnership with Suzuki if the opportunity arose.

Read Sergio Marchionne's comments on expanding his company's role with Suzuki

"We're going to continue to work with Suzuki, and move forward with them," said Marchionne. "I have a very good relationship with the Suzuki family."

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