Alfa Romeo is likely to join forces with Mazda, after
signing an MoU today, to build a new small roadster
which will be based around the underpinnings of the
next-generation Mazda MX-5 and contract manufactured in
Japan but with the Alfa Romeo Spider version however
expected to use the Italian firm's own engines.
A statement issued today jointly
in Turin and Tokyo read: "Fiat Group Automobiles S.p.A.
(Fiat) and Mazda Motor Corporation (Mazda) have signed a
non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the
development and manufacturing of a new roadster for the
Mazda and Alfa Romeo marques based on Mazda’s
next-generation MX-5 rear-wheel-drive architecture."
Mazda and Fiat Group
Automobiles have been linked together for sometime. The
Mazda MX-5 roadster has been a long running success
story for the Japanese carmaker since it was launched in
1989 and has gone through three generational facelifts.
Since parting ways with Ford, Mazda has been on the look
out for new future alliances, as has also been the long
running story with Fiat Group.
"The study calls for both Fiat
and Mazda to develop two differentiated, distinctly
styled, iconic and brand-specific light weight,
roadsters featuring rear-wheel drive," the statement
continued. "The Alfa Romeo and Mazda variants will each
be powered by specific proprietary engines unique to
each brand," the press releases also claims. "The
project assumption is that both vehicles will be
manufactured at Mazda’s Hiroshima, Japan, plant with
production for Alfa Romeo envisaged starting in 2015,"
the jointly issued statement added.
"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.
"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.
The Final Agreement is expected
be signed in the second-half of 2012. The statement adds
that: "Fiat and Mazda have also agreed to discuss
further opportunities for co-operation in Europe."