Since Ford said sayonara to its stake in Mazda, the erstwhile allies have been been having a lot of those “relationship talks,” reports The Detroit News. And true to the cliches, it’s a case of “can’t live with you, can’t live without you.” Crack a beer if you’ve been there before. Anyway, therap, I mean, analyst Jim Hall of 2953 Analytics sat down with the two to get a feel for the situation. “They’ve had a very symbiotic relationship,” he tells DetN. “The risk for Ford is they lose Mazda’s small car expertise. They think they can make it up with Europe, but Mazda can do it cheaper. The biggest risk to Mazda is their ability to get components on a global basis is reduced because their volumes are so low.” Ford goes around insisting that their “close, collaborative relationship will not change.” Meanwhile Mazda tells the Japanese papers that the partnership will be “fundamentally altered.” But despite its tough talk, Mazda might need Ford’s help to expand in China, where it’s looking at a 30 percent sales bump in 08. “The thing that Ford gives Mazda, historically, is capital — and that keeps the Japanese banks off its back,” empathizes Hall. “Now, the banks are a major shareholder.” Ford and Mazda still hold monthly meetings, and US executives say Mazda’s need for engines, successful JV plants, and mutual respect will keep them together. But will Mazda’s start-stop technology be shared with Ford? And for that matter will Mazda’s “own” DSG box be a dry-clutch like the forthcoming Ford Powershift? If two cannibals share a lifeboat, which one survives? So many questions. And based on how things usually go in relationships like these, the crazy kids probably don’t know yet themselves.
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