Automotive News Executive Editor Edward Lapham writes five commentaries each week for autonews.com. You can read them at autonews.com /edwardlapham.
General Motors is selling its 20 percent stake in Fuji Heavy, maker of Subaru cars.
Toyota Motor Corp. will pay about $302.6 million to GM for an 8.7 percent stake in Fuji, becoming Fuji's largest shareholder.
Subaru, the famed all-wheel-drive brand, is a fixer-upper that isn't doing General Motors much good.
There has been no great technology transfer, and, face it, the Saab 9-2X that is based on the Subaru Impreza hasn't exactly set the world on fire. Through September, Saab dealers sold 5,800 9-2Xs, undoubtedly goosed by the employee-discount pricing promotion.
Yet the Saabaru, as some have dubbed it, hasn't helped the Saab brand image, which is in dire need of clarification, fortification and perhaps redefinition. But that's another column for another day.
Anyway, it makes sense for GM to peddle its stake in Fuji Heavy.
Still, it raises several questions.
A handful of Saab cultists will want to know how long Saab dealers will sell the 9-2X.
But inquiring minds want to know if any other GM assets might be on the block soon. If so, which ones?
And why the heck does Toyota want a piece of Fuji?
Maybe the analysts are right, and Toyota wants access to Subaru's awd and battery technologies, not to mention some of the carmaker's excess capacity.
But you never know.
This could be the start of a brand explosion for Toyota Motor Corp. Japan's largest automaker also owns chunks of Daihatsu Motor Co. Ltd., which makes minivehicles, and Hino Motors Ltd., which makes big trucks.
Perhaps Toyota execs believe that if and when their company surpasses GM as the world's largest automaker, it ought to have an array of brands -- as GM does. As Ford does.
It could be they just want a version of the B9 Tribeca sport wagon to sell as the Ginza.