Alfa In Platform-Sharing Talks With Tata
The ties between Tata Motors and Fiat are plentiful; Ratan Tata sits on Fiat's board, and the two firms run several joint manufacturing ventures in India. And with Tata's recent purchase of Jaguar and Land Rover comes an opportunity for Fiat's performance brand Alfa Romeo to piggyback on Jaguar's existing rear wheel-drive sedan architecture. Fiat development boss Harald Wester tells Auto Motor und Sport that the two firms are already discussing details of the possible platform share. "We have diverse worldwide cooperations with Tata," said Wester, "because of this, it makes sense for us to seek opportunities with Jaguar and Land Rover. Naturally, a properly-dimensioned rear-wheel drive platform would serve Alfa well, and we're working on that. But there are more options. One alternative is developing a unique platform for Maserati, Alfa and Lancia. Another is that Maserati would get a unique platform, while the other two brands would share with a partner (Jaguar)." A Jaguar XF in a sharp Italian suit with Alfa badges could be exactly what the brand needs when it launches stateside in 2010, while platform-sharing would help Jaguar improve its profitability.
We're going to be seeing a LOT of teamwork between FIAT and Tata in the future. The two companies planned on working together and FIAT actually helped Tata put a bid together for Jaguar and Land Rover. To give you an idea of how close these 2 companies are, here's an example: The CEO of FIAT (Sergio Marchionne) invited Ratan Tata to join the board of directors at FIAT. So maybe, Tata might install some of Alfa's designers at Jaguar to make their sports cars (XK and XKR) to look more dyanamic? I can't wait! :O)
Wasn't the main gripe about the X-type, and to a lesser extent the S-type, was that they were not uniquely Jaguar and the same platform could be bought for less somewhere else ? I can't see how an XF sold cheaper as an Alfa is going to help Jaguar's brand cachet. To succeed Jaguar needs to have the exclusivity, so that people are prepared to pay a premium (ie. profit) to get into it.
Ah, now I understand how the Tata purchase of Jag/LR is going to work out. Rather brilliant actually. Fiat Group has almost no business in the US except for the trickle of Ferraris and Maseratis. The platform sharing opportunities are huge. The irony of Fiat recovering by spending the $2B payoff from GM wisely is absolutely unnerving. It is proof positive that the number one task of executive management is to make the important decisions well. GM has not demonstrated that skill in a long, long time. The focus of a few enthusiasts on what platform is shared with what other car does not translate into the real market much. Real buyers care about the finished item and it's perceived quality. Few Acura TL owners know or care that the platform is shared with the Accord. The X-type's problem was that it never looked or felt like a proper Jaguar, period. Had Ford started with the Mondeo floor-pan and ended up with a proper Jaguar it would have been a success, but they didn't work the details hard enough to make it happen.