General Motors needs cash more than it needs unproductive partnerships, apparently.
GM last week arranged to dump its 20 percent stake in Fuji Heavy Industries, parent company of Subaru, for an estimated $725 million. Toyota Motor Co. will buy a chunk of the shares, getting 8.7 percent ownership of Fuji.
The Fuji share had been part of GM's much-heralded "global alliance strategy" early this decade. The GM network included its deal with Fiat, which it paid $2 billion to exit this year, and a 49 percent stake in Isuzu, which it has reduced to about 8 percent. GM retains its 20 percent stake in Suzuki.
GM had little to show for its link with Fuji -- the slow-selling Saab 9-2X compact and plans for a Saab-badged Subaru B9 Tribeca, are canceled. More importantly, though, GM's Asia focus has shifted to its GM-Daewoo partnership in Korea and sales in China.
Toyota, meanwhile, could get access to Subaru all-wheel-drive technology. If it wants more capacity, Subaru has some available in its Lafayette, Ind., plant.
Subaru dealers are cheering the deal. They were never fond of sharing products with Saab. And they have their eyes on Toyota's hybrid technology.
Dale Walker, owner of Walker's Renton Subaru in Renton, Wash., says the deal with Toyota "opens up some great possibilities for hybrid cars."
"Take hybrid cars and Subaru demographics and I don't think there is a better match out there."
Jeffrey Gerald, general manager of Gerald Subaru in Naperville, Ill., echoed the approval: "I can't believe how great this is. What we got from GM is OnStar on a L.L. Bean wagon. From a dealer standpoint we didn't get much out of that alliance."