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Fiat and Mazda to develop new car

by Bill Cawthon on

Fiat Group Automobiles S.p.A. and Mazda Motor Corporation have agreed to jointly develop a new sports car to be based on the next-generation of the Mazda MX-5 Miata. The two companies today announced the signing a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding covering the development and manufacturing of the car and a final agreement should be signed later this year.

The new car will be sold as both an Alfa Romeo and a Mazda and will be built at Mazda’s Hiroshima, Japan, assembly plant.

The agreement calls for the development of two distinctive, brand-specific lightweight, rear-wheel-drive roadsters powered by engines unique to each brand.

“This agreement clearly demonstrates our commitment to Alfa Romeo and the determination to grow it into a truly global brand. By partnering with Mazda, we will be co-operating with the recognized leader in compact rear-drive vehicle architectures in order to deliver an exciting and stylish roadster in the Alfa Romeo tradition. We are appreciative of this collaboration with Mazda and look forward to maintaining a fruitful and continuous relationship,” said Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne.

“Establishing technology and product development alliances is one of Mazda’s corporate objectives and this announcement with Fiat is an important first step in that direction. It is especially exciting to be collaborating with such a prestigious marque as Alfa Romeo on a new roadster based on the next-generation MX-5, which is such an iconic vehicle for Mazda and recognized as the best-selling roadster of all time,” said Takashi Yamanouchi, Mazda’s Representative Director and Chairman of the Board, President and CEO.

The press information did not indicate which version, if any, might be sold in the United States. The Miata has been sold here since the brand was introduced and Fiat is still eager to reestablish Alfa Romeo in America.

Fiat and Mazda have also agreed to discuss further opportunities for cooperation in Europe.

Fiat has been looking for an additional partner for some time and Mazda has encountered financial problems arising from the fact it produces most of its vehicles in Japan where the strong yen has made exports very costly.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for just-auto.com, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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