Fiat is no stranger to partnership deals. There is the ill-fated General Motors deal in which GM paid $2 billion to get out of, an agreement with Suzuki regarding the SX-4, the Chrysler “partnership” (buyout) and the latest one with Mazda regarding the MX-5 platform. The tie up with Mazda has been regarded as an ideal fit for both manufacturers.
Mazda needs volume and development dollars, Fiat needs the expertise and quick development of a small roadster for Alfa. Fiat is aggressively going after new partners, and Mazda, who is on its own, has said it needs one as well. Recent measures have been taken to eliminate expenses and cut costs as losses have mounted. Going it alone in the highly-competitive global auto industry is a difficult task.
That has led to further speculation that a deeper investment partnership between the two was in the works. Recently Chrysler Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne seemed to hint at that, saying “We will continue to look at other bilateral arrangements…we’re totally open…the economics make it very difficult for most automakers to continue to produce all their own platforms and powertrains.”
Indeed. For Mazda this couldn’t come at a better time. After Marchionne’s comments stirred the pot about a Fiat stake in the company though, Fiat said the agreements don’t include that. That came from Fiat chairman John Elkann, via Reuters. Fiat is instead concentrated on purchasing a larger percentage of Chrysler, which it already controls. However, more deals in the future between Fiat and Mazda could be announced – they just will be similar in scope to the MX-5 deal. For now, that is. The MX-5-based Alfa Romeo should be an exciting model, and it indicates a lineup of sports cars is being prepared to lead Alfa’s comeback (we’re still waiting…) to the United States.