And now for the Italian section of our collection of tasteful tie-up art. Mazda and Fiat not quite tied the knot, but they became engaged. Mazda and Fiat 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 says in a statement.
Using the next-gen MX-5 platform, both knotees will “develop two differentiated, distinctly styled, iconic and brand-specific light weight, roadsters.” Each will “be powered by specific proprietary engines unique to each brand.” However, the plan is that both vehicles will be manufactured at Mazda’s Hiroshima plant where the Alfa should roll off the line some time in 2015. The Final Agreement is expected to be signed in the second-half of 2012.
Of course, jointly producing a low volume roadster won’t be all. According to the statement, “Mazda and Fiat have also agreed to discuss further opportunities for cooperation in Europe.” Mazda told Reuters that “the agreement does not involve any discussions on an equity alliance,” but that doesn’t rule them out.
In the world of tie-ups, Mazda has been tightly watched ever since Ford pulled out. Mazda needs a global partner, and the fit with Fiat and Chrysler would be good.