The CEO of Volkswagen AG, Martin Winterkorn, said that 2012 will be a “harder” year for the business with the European debt crisis crimping the demand for vehicles. In last Monday’s interview with German daily Handelsblatt, Winterkorn said that there’s no doubt in his mind that the situation will be significantly tougher next year, mostly in Europe and especially in countries like Italy and Spain that are heavily indebted. He also said that the region's market will be narrower next year.
In the interview, Winterkorn reiterated that VW continues to refuse to sell VW's stake in Suzuki, which has been calling on VW to end the alliance.
He said that he was prepared to stick it out until Suzuki’s management is replaced. Last Friday, Suzuki and VW appeared to be headed to arbitration after VW refused yet again to sell back its 20% stake to Suzuki.
The two companies have been feuding ever since VW’s 2010 annual report was released in March. VW had referred to Suzuki as an “associate.”
Their partnership was also affected by a claim by Chairman Osamu Suzuki that VW disparaged his company's honor by asserting that it had breached the 2009 contract by purchasing Fiat S.p.A.’s engines. [source: Reuters]