TOKYO (Bloomberg) -- Suzuki Motor Corp., the Japanese automaker 20 percent owned by Volkswagen AG, questioned the extent of its partnership with Europe's biggest carmaker and said it is seeking other alliances.
Suzuki is talking with VW about "what the two companies agreed upon" rather than new projects or cars, Yasuhito Harayama, Suzuki executive vice president, told reporters today in Hamamatsu, Japan. "We can't cooperate unless we are equal partners."
The Japanese automaker is seeking alliances after last month broadening its agreement with Fiat's Powertrain unit to supply diesel engines for the Suzuki SX4, Harayama said.
Volkswagen paid $2.5 billion for the Suzuki stake in January 2010 to expand in India, where the Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. unit makes almost half the passenger cars sold.
"If necessary, we will form other alliances like the one with Italy's Fiat," Harayama said at an event to introduce Suzuki's recently appointed executive vice president.
VW abandoned its plan to increase its stake in Suzuki, Germany's Der Spiegel magazine reported last month, citing people familiar with the matter. The cooperation with Suzuki "is a true disappointment," the magazine quoted an unidentified manager at the German automaker as saying. Suzuki is interested in VW's modern drive technology, while the Japanese company isn't willing to come to an accommodation in joint projects, Spiegel reported.
"Volkswagen and Suzuki still are and will continue to be two independent companies with different business models from different cultural environments," Hans Demant, VW's coordinator for international projects, said in an e-mailed statement. "The cooperation is marked by highest respect and acceptance."
Suzuki has thrived on its own by making minicars and expanding in emerging markets, Harayama said.
"We don't think we would have been able to survive in our minicar business and the emerging markets if Volkswagen had a significant influence on our finances and business management," said Harayama.
'Developing more slowly'
"Although certain aspects of our cooperation with Suzuki are developing more slowly than originally anticipated, a whole range of attractive opportunities for cooperation, for instance in procurement, have emerged," VW CEO Martin Winterkorn said at the annual shareholders meeting in May, according to a transcript of his comments on the company's Web site. "Concrete projects continue to be discussed with colleagues at Suzuki."
Separately, the Japanese company is reconsidering a plan to invest 1.5 billion yen ($18 million) in its Sagara factory, which is about 11 kilometers (7 miles) from the Hamaoka nuclear power plant that was shut in May amid safety concerns.
Toshihiro Suzuki, executive vice president, told reporters today the factory could be in the evacuation zone should there be a radiation leak at the power plant.
Suzuki President Osamu Suzuki said on June 23 that the company may shift output away from the Sagara plant because its "location is subject to the risk of tsunamis, quakes, nuclear plants, and liquefaction."