Piech lines up Suzuki as his next target

Ferdinand Piech is plotting the next stage in his long-term goal of making Volkswagen the world’s biggest automotive group. This time it appears he has Suzuki in his sights.

VW’s latest acquisition, Porsche, which sells about 100,000 cars a year, won’t help Piech achieve his ambition of overtaking Toyota as the world’s No. 1 automaker but a tie-up with Suzuki could give VW a big boost, especially in India where Suzuki is the top-selling carmaker with about 50 percent of the new-car market.

Suzuki’s Chairman Osamu Suzuki denies that his company has talked with the German carmaker about VW taking a stake in the Japanese carmaker.

But Piech is doing what he has always done throughout his 46-year automotive career: spreading hints and rumors that confuse, baffle and weaken his intended target.

In May, Piech told German journalists at the launch of the new Polo in Sardinia that he was eyeing three more brands for the VW group after Porsche. Asked if one of these was Suzuki, he said only that he has great respect for the company, which, like Piech, has a reputation for technical expertise.

Last week, VW CEO Martin Winterkorn told a Germany’s Manager Magazin that Suzuki would be an interesting partner for VW because of its competency in small cars.

German press reports say VW could take a 10 percent stake in Suzuki as the first step toward a full takeover.

Manager Magazin also said that Renault is in talks with Suzuki.

So is Piech about to get into a fight with another auto industry giant, Carlos Ghosn?

Don’t rule it out. Piech, who is 72, shows no signs of retiring, or resting on his laurels after his successful addition of Porsche as VW group's 10 brand.

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