We’ve published a few outlandish rumors around here, but this new one, coming from Italy’s Quattroruote magazine, can definitely take the proverbial cake.
According to it, the Volkswagen Group is reportedly interested in buying Fiat’s Alfa Romeo division. In order to achieve it, VW plans to spend as much as 1 billion Euros, around $1.3 billion.
Volkswagen wants to be the largest carmaker in the world by 2018, and this new acquisition might help even more. The German company has already purchased a stake in Japanese carmaker Suzuki, and already owns another Italian brand, Lamborghini.
On the other side, Fiat has always said that the Alfa Romeo brand is in a bit of troubled position, at least in terms of earnings, but with models like the Giulietta, and the pending comeback onto American shores, it seems like Alfa is still alright.
Frankly, we’re not so confident in this report, but if one company can go after Alfa Romeo, it’s Volkswagen.
Volkswagen has been slowly getting bigger and bigger in the past few years, and has even achieved to dethrone Toyota as the world’s biggest carmaker. This is largely due to its big portfolio of brands, from accessible ones like Skoda or Seat to luxury like Audi or Bentley.
In the last few months of 2009, the company announced two big purchases, 49.9% of Porsche, which will soon grow next year so that the two companies can merge, and 19.9% of Suzuki, heralding the entry of VW onto the Japanese market’s small car segment.
But don’t worry, VW won’t slowly take over the world, as its CEO, Martin Winterkorn, has just revealed that the company will refrain from making any other purchases anytime soon, and that it will focus on building the brands it currently has under its wing.
“There are some who knock on our door,” he said. “Some really want to come under our roof as they see we’re on a good path strategically. But we are satisfied with the current line-up. I don’t see any need [to make more acquisitions].”
The VW executive also revealed that only time will tell if its share stake in Suzuki will rise. Until then though, the German corporation has some big plans which will be revealed in the near future.
Volkswagen is definitely taking its newly-earned honor of world’s biggest automaker and is making purchases left and right. Besides taking one step closer to merging with fellow German carmaker Porsche, by buying 49.9% of its stocks, the company has just unveiled that it has bought 19.9% of Suzuki stocks, in a move which will start a new partnership between the two companies.
Half of the money received by Suzuki (which, for the record, denied that any partnership will ever take place) from this transaction will be used to buy Volkswagen stocks, but according to rumors, VW might increase its share to 33% in the future, if things will become profitable.
This is likely a win-win situation, as not only does Suzuki gain an important partner with plenty of important technologies, but VW gains an even bigger influence in Asia through Suzuki and also benefits from the small car technology the Japanese company possesses.
Do you think this new partnership will work to the benefit of the two companies?
Germany will soon be host to a historic merger, as Volkswagen and Porsche are soon set to become one entity, with the Stuttgart manufacturer entering the Volkswagen Group. The biggest hurdle was already passed a few days ago when VW announced that it has acquired 49.9% of Porsche.
“The combination of the two companies follows a compelling strategic, industrial and financial logic. For the Volkswagen Group, Porsche ideally complements the brand portfolio. The Stuttgart-based car maker will allow Volkswagen to further expand its position in the premium business, which offers particularly strong earnings. In turn, as an independent brand under the roof of the Volkswagen Group, Porsche will have the potential for significant additional growth,” revealed VW.
As you all know, Porsche did attempt a takeover of VW, but failed, resulting in some pretty big debts, which coupled with the financial recession, left it no choice but to merge with Volkswagen in order to become solvable once more.
Expect many collaborations and platform-sharing to be done between the two entities, and an array of new models.
It’s safe to say that the recently released Seat Exeo hasn’t blown anyone’s mind, essentially being a redesigned last generation Audi A4, and was just released so that the Spanish brand could get a saloon on the tough European market.
Luckily though, for fans of Seat, a source has declared that the next generation will take a step in the right direction, and feature a much more customized design, in order to reflect the image of the Spanish brand.
“The current Exeo was a very good solution to our desire to get a saloon to market very quickly,” said the source. “We needed to be in that segment and the old A4 was the best option, but its replacement will be very much a Seat product, relying less on VW Group technology.”
The source also likened the current Exeo with the old Skoda Superb, which was heavily based on the Volkswagen Passat. Now, the new model sports a much more individualized model, reflecting the new design line of the Czech brand.
Hopefully the new Seat Exeo will appear soon enough, alongside models like the Tribu crossover or a possible new sports car, but only if the Spanish brand will see some positive sales results in the last time frame.
Out of the regular brands in the Volkswagen group (I’m not talking about Lamborghini or Bentley), Seat has really stood out in terms of design, releasing some great looking models (although some would argue looking the same), based on the durable platforms from VW.
Now, talking about the future plans of the Spanish brand, a source has revealed that a sportscar is definitely on the drawing board, but until it will materialize, the company needs to sell more of its current models, in order to be more profitable and its main Martorell plant to operate at a higher rate. Currently, the plant is running at 50% capacity.
“A sports car is definitely something we’d like to do,” said the source, “but we need to get our volumes up and sell more of the cars we’ve already got before we start thinking about new models. We’re a young, sporty and design-led brand. That’s what Seat stands for; in any sector we’re in, we want to be the sportiest, so something like a sports car makes sense for us.”
Frankly, I’d love to see a Seat sports car, maybe a small Audi TT-based roadster or something completely new. What are your thoughts on the matter? Would a Spanish sportscar peak your interest?
As an integral effort of getting along with Volkswagen, Porsche has announced that it will share platforms from various models with other companies from inside the group. Michael Macht, the new boss of the company, has also revealed that the first electric vehicle, when the technology will allow it, will be the Panamera.
Macht revealed that: “Porsche needs to become a strong pillar of VW, as well as having its own production and research and development capabilities. It is important to use synergies as well as having independence. The Panamera platform could be used by other brands for models that are in development and at the concept stage.”
While we can expect models like the new Cayenne to share a platform with VW or Audi, Macht reveals that the case is still on the board for the iconic 911, meaning that any VW-badged rear-wheel 911 or Boxster variant won’t appear anytime soon.
Either way, it should be interesting to see what results will the collaboration between Porsche and the VW group generate. Do you think it will be for the best or should Porsche keep its exclusive nature and not share its “toys” with others? Leave a comment below.