By on May 25, 2012

Although news articles on the topic are fairly thin, it seems almost inevitable that Mazda and Fiat will continue doing business together, with the next step involving Mazdas built at Fiat/Chrysler plants.

Articles in Automotive News and Just-Auto have quotes from Sergio Marchionne expounding on his openness to alliances and the “difficult economics” of creating new platforms and engines independently. Our sources indicate that further collaboration between Fiat and Mazda are going to happen.

Mazda needs to form an alliance with someone or risk perishing. Fiat and Chrysler plants have excess capacity, and Mazda is facing a big problem with a strong yen impacting their exports. Their new factory in Mexico can’t come soon enough, and North American built Mazdas would be a lifeline of sorts for the company.

The deeper business synergies between Mazda and Fiat are somewhat obscure, but from a strictly product-focused standpoint, the two companies seem to share an ethos for more compact, fun-to-drive cars. Mazda manages to stretch few resources into some compelling products and technologies, and a Fiat tie-up could ease some of the burden of being an independent automaker, while passing some lessons of their own back to Turin and Detroit.

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21 Comments on “Fiat/Mazda Alliance May Bear More Fruit, With Mazda Cars Built At Fiat, Chrysler Plants...”


  • avatar
    jeoff

    Mazda needs some more dealers! Sell them with/as Dodges, maybe the way they used to do with Mitsubishi.

  • avatar
    Acd

    This seems to make more sense than the GM Europe/Peugeot partnership (or whatever it turns out to be).

  • avatar
    carguy

    Makes a lot of sense as long as quality isn’t affected.

  • avatar

    So Mazda gets jettisoned by Ford and ends up with Chrysler.

    • 0 avatar
      Battlehawk

      After years of developing interesting cars that don’t sell and watching Ford sell millions of them on the same platforms, imagine what they can do for Fiatsler!

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    Thank God you wrote this piece instead of Bertel, Deke….one more of his NSFW b0ndage image coming through my network is gonna get me fired. Thanks.

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    Ford is probably going to hate this. Hope so.

  • avatar
    Byron Hurd

    Makes a great deal of sense, I think. Mazda needs access to modern ICE, which Chrysler and Fiat are developing, and the two have several opportunities to share other platforms. The Mazda2 and 500 cater to different buyers, for example, but could easily benefit from component sharing.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      “Mazda needs access to modern ICE”? Really? After winning a bunch of engineering awards for SkyActiv? Seriously?

      The question is how long would it take to ramp up production of Mazdas in Fiat’s factories? Simply moving production out of Japan will do wonders for Mazda’s profitability.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    Sergio portrayed Fiat as the savior of Chrysler, when it looks now like the other way around. Is he planning to do the same with Mazda? Maybe this is why he’s seemingly given up on reviving Lancia.

  • avatar
    Charliej

    Fiat is the savior of Chrysler. Without Fiat, where would Chrysler be now? In the dead company file? Fiat invested money for redesigned cars and it is paying off. The US is coming out of the recession and car sales are booming. Chrysler would not be here to enjoy increased sales if not for Fiat.

    • 0 avatar
      mtymsi

      Very true.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      The current crop of highly successful cars from Chrysler were developed by…… Daimler. Among them the enormously successful Jeep Grand Cherokee, a kissing cousin of the Mercedes ML-series, and the fabulously well-mannered 300 that uses an older version of the Mercedes suspension system.

      The all-aluminum Pentastar DOHC 24-valve VVT 3.5-liter V6 is a light-weight Daimler design and is a winner. We own one in my wife’s 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

      It is the best engine Chrysler has ever used and cranks out an honest 290-305 horsepower, normally aspirated, depending on application and exhaust system. Imagine what it can do with a blower on it.

      The interior of the RAM trucks were redesigned by Daimler.

      Fiat just got in on the end of a great deal and got paid $1.3B by the US government to take Chrysler off our hands. Not too shabby!

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        I once asked a tow truck driver what vehicles he tows the most (so I would know what to avoid). He said it was the Chrysler 300 by far.

        I do believe Chryslers are better than before, and they are enjoying success, but I’m not convinced their culture has changed. Like GM seems to be slipping back into their old bad habits, I expect Chrysler to do the same.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        redav, I’ve never been a Chrysler fan. I owned several used 4X4 Jeeps over the decades and I thought they were all crap, even those from AMC.

        But they were relatively easy to fix and parts were plentiful at junk yards and easy to come by. The architecture of Jeeps and Chrysler/Plymouth/Dodge/DeSoto cars was straight-forward and I was comfortable rebuilding Chrysler engines for my dad’s dragster since I was 12, and modifying underpowered Jeeps and Chrysler products with larger engines. (’63 Dodge Slant 6 -> 383, Jeep I-6 -> 318)

        When Daimler owned Chrysler the culture that led to Chrysler’s demise did not change. Ditto during Cerberus.

        But under Sergio and Fiat I believe that Chrysler will do OK. In fact Chrysler has done so well that its profits are what is keeping Fiat alive.

        Sergio and Fiat have marginalized the UAW representatives on the BoD and Fiat will press on without the UAW’s help and make Chrysler products elsewhere at the first sign of trouble with the UAW.

        The UAW knows this and is unlikely to strike Chrysler or cause mayhem, unless they are just on a suicidal binge to kill themselves.

        That’s happened before so it could happen again. For the UAW suicide is painless, it brings on many changes. Like the tax payer bail outs, for instance.

        I hope Chrysler will be around for the next 3 years because that’s how long the warranty is on my wife’s 2012 JGC. So far, no problems.

  • avatar

    I am hoping Fiat/Mazda alliance will at least give birth to Alfa mx-5 or Miata Spider. I can’t wait !

  • avatar
    geozinger

    Fish, meet bicycle. Bicycle, meet Fish.

    This sounds like all of the usual synergy/marketing/BS doublespeak whenever two companies are feeling each other out to see if this union would work.

    Contrary to popular opinion, Fiat isn’t all that healthy. Like it’s Chrysler owning predecessor, Daimler, they’re making money off of the North American product but the home market isn’t all that great. This has been discussed on this blog before.

    Mazda is in a world of hurt, and appears to be desperate to gain another partner immediately, at least one not named Toyota. I can’t imagine the Sumitomo keiretsu letting their business interest twist in the wind, so something will come along to help them out.

    I have a hard time imagining what it is these two companies could do together, even if a new Fiata were to come out of the early talks. Is Fiat still involved with Suzuki, which produced the Sedici (SX4 in the States)?

    I can actually see more possibilities with Suzuki vs. Mazda. Suzuki would give Fiat/Chrysler entry into SE Asian markets that F/C has a slim chance to enter. Suzuki could get solid NA distribution and/or product through an alliance or merger with F/C. I could see the ‘synergies’ happening there.

    Mazda and C/F in NA have a lot of overlap. I think it would take a long time, with tightly focused coordination to give each enough room to move in the same market without stepping on each other’s toes.

    • 0 avatar
      minneapolis_lakers

      I’m sure Sergio would love to takeover Mazda and fold it into his empire.

      But there’s on problem: Fiat doesn’t have any money. As we call know, the U.S. government paid them to “save” Mopar.

      On the other hand, Mazda’s patron Sumitomo has the opposite problem: they literally have too much money! The bank in the Sumitomo keiretsu have hundreds of billions of dollars worth of deposits sitting on their books with no one to loan to. The keiretsu’s trading company is also flush with cash.

      Mazda may be a small fish in the ocean, but they do belong to a group of whales.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Mazda was one of the brands my brothers carried before they retired from the new-car retail business.

        Mazdas never sold well. When given a choice, most buyers chose the Ford equivalent even though the Mazda6 was, IMO, the better value of the two, and the Mazda3 would eat a similar Focus for lunch in ride and handling. The Mazda 2300/4000 was a rebadged Ranger.

        The Mazda5 was a niche vehicle without equal and the CX-9 was a better dad-mobile than anything from anyone else.

        If Sergio would be able to take over Mazda, Fiat would get the better end of the deal, just like Chrysler’s profit and the $1.3B taxpayer money saved Fiat from certain death, the better end of the deal.

        Fiat has an established history of crappy vehicles and the Fiat name would not sell well on rebadged products from Mazda and Chrysler. Maybe in strong Fiat markets it would, but I can’t think of any strong Fiat markets, not even Italy.

        Sergio would do well to market under the established names while at the same time incorporating the better quality into his own Fiat line of products.

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    Great. Well engineered cars built by the UAW with Chrysler management. The inverse of shining s&!t.


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