Will An Equity Stake Give Fiat And Alfa Romeo Access To Mazda Skyactiv Technology?
The Mazda/Alfa Romeo sports car collaboration was best described by one industry reporter as “the first slow dance, where they leave room for Jesus”. Now it looks like Fiat is definitely trying to cop a feel.
According to a Ward’s Auto report, Mazda and Fiat have hit it off well, and are discussing all kinds of options to cut costs. According to the CEOs of both companies, everything is up for grabs, including Mazda’s Skyactiv technology. But don’t expect Mazda to, erm, put out right away.
With Sergio Marchionne publicly discussing a possible equity stake in Mazda (which is looking for a new suitor now that Ford has almost completely divested itself from Mazda), Mazda CEO Takashi Yamanouchi will probably want to see some commitment from Fiat, likely in the form of a small stake in Mazda.
Technology aside, regional synergies are apparently high on the list for both companies. Fiat needs a foothold in Asian markets where Mazda is strong, and the Japanese auto maker is looking to expand aggressively in markets like Brazil, where Fiat is traditionally strong.
This could be very good for both parties. Mazda could use a better European presence and access to alternative powertrain technologies like DCTs and Fiat's Turbo and MultiAir systems. Fiat (and especially Chrysler) could use Mazda's high compression piston design to increase efficiency across the board. And let's face it, the SkyActiv-AT is a home run compared to any AT they've got. Both manufacturers know how to do sweet steering racks and suspension tuning, so likely there WON'T be a lot of cross-influence there.
Mazda and Fiat are like my putting. When they come oh so close and lip out, vehement cursing and wishful thinking occurs. When they nail a 35 footer dead solid perfect, karma evens out on a cosmic level. I'd like a Jeep Grand Cherokee and a Miata in my driveway. This could work if they work smart and don't get into peeing contests.
How much unused capacity does Fiat have at their factories (besides Europe where I assume there is a bunch)? I know one of Mazda's big problems is that their line is exported from Japan. Does Fiat have plants that could be tooled to make Mazdas in countries with more favorable exchange rates?
This could be good, but I just hope they don't dilute their respective characteristics, as I've grown to really like what Mazda has done with their driving dynamics, as in the case of my 03 Protege5. That said, it needs another cog in the sport stick automatic to help with the highway mileage, at the very least. That said, I like Fiat's approach, go small with the motors, but make them peppy, even in NA form, rather than go larger in displacement, that in and of itself is part of how to improve gas mileage, especially the city mileage. So on that note, if they both come to a halfway point, Mazda to drop engine size on their Mazda3 to something a bit less than 2.0L, use Skyactive, and perhaps MultiAir, we may have something truly great here, but leave the driving dynamics alone as they are. With that, Mazda may well be on their way to surviving, and Fiat/Chrysler can also benefit from Mazda's tech as well.