• Jun 25, 2009
Suzuki Alto Lapin - Click above for high-res gallery

According to reports from Reuters and Manager Magazin in Germany, Volkswagen is keen to purchase a 10% stake in Suzuki in order to cooperate on future small cars for emerging markets. In its home market of Japan, Suzuki is the second-largest automaker behind Toyota and dominates the tiny Kei car market alongside Toyota-owned Daihatsu.

These miniature 660cc vehicles are extremely popular in Japan's dense urban settings and Volkswagen reportedly believes this class of automobile holds great promise for emerging markets. In India, for example, Tata Motors has seen a great deal of success with its diminutive Nano, which is billed as the cheapest car in the world.

Suzuki already enjoys a measure of success in Tata's home turf, where its Maruti Suzuki subsidiary offers the Alto, which has been the best-selling automobile in India since 2004. At this time, both Suzuki and Volkswagen are declining comment, but VW chairman Ferdinand Piech has praised the Japanese automaker numerous times in the past.



[Source: Retuers]


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  • 20 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Maybe VW should be upset that this name is very similar to a Rabbit
        • 5 Years Ago
        Or maybe that it looks like any previous incarnation of the Alto with a nose which resembles the (much larger) Nissan Cube.
        • 5 Years Ago
        or the fact that it looks almost exactly like a 2nd gen cube
        • 5 Years Ago
        Or that this car has been out for ages before the 2nd gen cube hit the drawing board, and the Nissan Cube is probably about twice the size of this car.
      • 5 Years Ago
      That has to be the biggest Nissan Cube ripoff ever.
        • 5 Years Ago
        To be perfectly honest, both the 2nd-gen Cube and Lapin were released at the same time (2002)... it's hard to determine which is a ripoff of which, or just a mere coincidence. The 1st-gen Cube looked nothing like this.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Oh..... moving on lol
        • 5 Years Ago
        Actually (and I direct this to Mayoman as well), the Alto Lapin and Cube came out in the exact same year; that said, the Lapin's inspiration comes from much older Suzuki kei cars, so the Lapin isn't exactly a rip off of the Cube.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "In its home market of Japan, Suzuki is the second-largest automaker behind Toyota and dominates the tiny Kei car market alongside Toyota-owned Daihatsu."

      This is what irks me about the Insight and Prius battling each other in recent months to be the "best-selling" car in Japan... those rankings always exclude kei-cars, which now make up around half of all new-car sales in Japan... if taking into account kei-car sales, the best-selling car in Japan, year-after-year since 2003, has been the Suzuki WagonR.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It makes a lot of difference when you replace the world GM with VW.
      GM failed because of badge engineering and because it became a financial company.
      The Phaeton and the Bugatti (which a lot of people call mistakes because the money that has been lost) shows the passion that this company has and will have. It's not always "profit-cost". In the auto industry at least if you loose passion and brand history you are done.
      • 5 Years Ago
      1990s - 2000s: GM creates Saturn, buys Saab and Hummer, buys 20% of Fiat and 10% of Subaru, closes Oldsmobile and Pontiac, badge-engineers almost all products to all brands, except the majority of Cadillac portfolio, invests a lot of money in pickup trucks and SUVs, is outsold by Toyota, goes bankrupt, sells 75% of Opel to Magna/Sberbank, sells Hummer to Sichuan and Saab to Koenigsegg. By these times tried and tried to hide the true financial situation

      1990s-2000s and maybe 2010s: VW buys SEAT, Skoda, Bugatti, Lamborghini and Scania, wants to buy 10% of Suzuki, invests a lot of money in an unsuccessful luxury car for its main brand, invests in SUVs and now in pickup trucks, wants to outsell Toyota, tries to have every kind of car to everyone in the main brand and in a smaller way in the other ones, except the majority of Audi's portfolio. Some rumors by these times said that VW could be bought by Ford and Audi could spinoff. Porsche tried to merger with, but it didn't happen by now.

      The future we can't know because it ain't happened yet, but can I see a parallel between the two auto groups and foresee some kind of dark times to VW soon?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Apple meet Orange.

        There’s a few critical differences here.

        First, take yourself out of the US mindset. VW is a much more global-minded company than GM and as we have said roughly 5 billion times here, the US is not even close to VW’s biggest market. (with that said, VW is doing very well here by only being down ~12% compared to 30-40’s) With that in mind, consider the following:

        The entry-level brands that VW bought (SEAT, Skoda) are home market brands so there’s not a lot of market cannibalization like we saw at GM (G3 anyone?)
        VW didn’t dump a ton of money into the Phaeton. Most the parts were shared with either the Bentley GT (platform) or the A8 (engines). It was probably still a mistake to build, but not a soul crushing one.

        VW has for a number of years had pick ups (Caddy and CrossFox) in the South American and other markets. This is a not a new investment for them and they sell well in their intended markets. While the Tiggy has been a disappointment in the States, in Europe they are selling faster than they can make them.

        The investment in Suzuki is a good idea because it will give them some needed experience in the microcar segment. Granted it’ll be a long time before we see it popular in the states (if ever) but in India, China, Africa, South America, these will likely sell very well. VW has a long standing brand presence there but they need some innovation (Mexico just stopped selling the original beetle a few years ago).

        And, of course, they are attempting to adapt to what the market needs instead of GM’s until-very-recent stubborn instance on trucks and SUV’s.

        I think VW will do just fine.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Wow, you really don't know much about VW.

        VW is a well run, profitable and global company - unlike the former GM. Those Germans sure know how to run their industries!
        • 5 Years Ago
        I think André mean in a more long-term plan. And maybe it's only the tip of the iceberg with some older Audi models being recycled into Seat models in Spain http://www.autosavant.com/2008/09/08/anyone-fancy-a-cheap-old-audi-made-in-spain/
        • 5 Years Ago
        other than GM VW is doing damn well earing billions Euro´s each year. Even in this crisis time they are able to make a win ...and btw Volkswagen AG is currently world wide number one by production numbers...
      • 5 Years Ago
      Lapin also goes as Mazda Spiano
      • 5 Years Ago
      If I were Suzuki, I'd sign an agreement yesterday. VW knows how to keep their brands separate and allow their engineers & teams to design focused products.
      • 5 Years Ago
      That would be great as Suzuki might get some more money to be able to bring the micro-cars over. In India, Maruti-Suzuki (Suzuki has essentially a complete (100%) stake in Indian manufacturer Maruti Udyog) has a lot of city car and subcompact models (I'll put the equivalent JDM Suzuki models in parentheses): with the 800 (oldest Alto), Alto (somewhat more recent but still old Alto), A-Star (newest Alto), Ritz (new Splash/Opel Agila), Swift (newest Swift), DZire (sedan version of newest Swift), and Zen Estilo (older MR Wagon), Maruti-Suzuki has that market covered and utterly dominates in sales in those segments. VW could do well with a stake in Suzuki.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Oops. They also have the SX4 (duh).
      • 5 Years Ago
      Imagine a VW badged Suzuki Swift.
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