TOKYO - The long-expected strategic alliance between Suzuki and General Motors, signed in Japan in October, rests on GM's long-felt need to compete in the sub-B city car segment.
The deal, under which GM raised its stake in Suzuki to 10 percent from 3.3 percent, calls for 'combined efforts in global manufacturing' as well as an exchange of advanced technologies.
GM's plans for a sub-B car were shelved when Adam Opel AG, its German subsidiary, scrapped development of the Maxx concept. The decision has left a gaping hole in GM's lineup in Europe, where other automakers are enjoying success in that segment.
Success stories include the Renault Twingo and Ford Ka, along with imports from Japan and Korea.
Suzuki builds the Alto in Hungary, a four-seat minicar that would be the likely starting place for a joint-venture minicar. The Alto is sold around the world in 660cc and 1-liter versions.
Suzuki will take primary responsibility for the design and development of small and minicar passenger vehicles with small displacement engines, particularly in Asia. Opel's small-vehicle activities will not be affected.
The small Opel Corsa is successful both in Europe and South America, where GM do Brasil has played a key role in developing sedan, wagon and pickup versions of the car.
The new agreement marks the strengthening of a 17-year affiliation between Suzuki and GM. The partners also cooperate in small cars and sport-utilities through the
CAMI Automotive joint venture in Ingersoll, Ontario.