Last month, Volkswagen increased its stake in Suzuki to 19.9%, while General Motors relinquished their last remaining shares in the company. The ramifications of these equity shifts is that GM will be replaced by Volkswagon as the source of Suzuki's alternative fuel / propulsion technologies.
For Suzuki, the Volkswagen diesel-electric hybrid technologies are the most valued for their future car plans. More and more, diesel-electric hybrid configurations appear to be the optimal hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) configuration for the major automakers, and this is where Volkswagon possesses strengths that General Motors lacks. Whether diesel internal combustion engines (ICE's) prove optimum for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV's) remains to be seen.
In addition, Suzuki was on the leading edge of fuel cell vehicle (FCV) technology with their SX4-FCV, using the state of the art General Motors configuration of the GM fuel cell coupled with a lightweight capacitor for regenerative braking and two very small 700 bar pressure tanks for a vehicle with sufficient range. Both the fuel cell and the motor fit in the engine compartment, and the capacitor only takes up a portion of the cargo space in back, providing more interior space than most other FCV's.
I consider Japan one of the leading markets for the acceptance of FCV's, so this will be a blow to General Motors ability to disseminate their technologies in a critical market. Hopefully, GM has other FCV's in development for this market, with Japanese partners to provide the sales channels.
[Source: Press Release]