When it comes to the North American market, Mazda and Alfa Romeo are a natural pair for a partnership. One has a sports car with a cult following, while the other has people wondering if it’ll ever come here. Mazda and Fiat, Alfa Romeo’s parent company, first came to an agreement to work with each other on a sports car project back in May of this year. This jointly developed vehicle is believed to be the next-generation MX-5 Miata, and Alfa Romeo is expected to use it for an upcoming convertible sports car. Now, five months later, it appears that partnership will go even deeper, and may extend into even more sharing of information and other technologies.
Research and testing for the shared sports car was scheduled to conclude at the end of September, but both Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne and Mazda CEO Takashi Yamanouchi believe the joint venture will push forwards as planned. That’s not the only thing the automakers are considering though. Both Fiat and Mazda have also agreed to further explore cost-saving options and the latest round of exploratory talks has only strengthened that. Marchionne recently revealed to WardsAuto at the Paris Motor Show that even an equity relationship with Mazda is being considered. Interestingly enough, Ford still holds a 2.11 percent share in Mazda but Yamanouchi believes the Blue Oval will sell it “sooner or later.”
This could open the door for Fiat, the Italian automaker who recently acquired a controlling stake in Chrysler Group LLC, to claim a stake in Mazda. The Japanese automaker has a strong presence in the Asia/Pacific market, a region where Fiat is looking to pick up some slack. In an effort to perhaps entice Fiat into the share, Mazda has said all of its technology is on the table for Fiat to use. It’s expected that both automakers would be responsible for their own drivetrains and design language for a respective model, but Mazda said nothing was off-limits as long as it helps the partnership. This even includes Mazda’s SkyActiv technology, which helps boost fuel efficiency and reduce emissions at the same time.
The SkyActiv diesel engine that serves under the hood of the Mazda6 in Europe accounts for 70 percent of sales. Mazda has made it known that it wishes to introduce this same technology here in North America as well. When pushed for exactly where the partnership would take Mazda and Fiat, Yamanouchi told WardsAuto “technology and regions.” As mentioned earlier, we expect this means that each automaker would help the other in markets where its presence isn’t as strong. This could include South America and more specifically Brazil, where Fiat is established, and in India and Africa, where Mazda has a strong presence.
Automotive.com’s take: The elephant in the room in this whole discussion is Chrysler. If Fiat were to acquire more of Mazda, and utilize more of its technology, how would this affect future Chrysler products, if at all? Would we see Mazda-based Chryslers, or Chrysler-based Mazdas? Could the Dodge Demon finally make it to production as a third variant of the Miata?
What say you? Is a partnership between Mazda and Fiat a good thing? Tell us what you think in the comment section below.