PARIS – Plans for Italy’sand Japan’s to share a sports-car platform appear to be a go, and top executives from each of the two auto makers say a more extended tie-up remains a possibility.
The auto makers agreed in May to explore potential to share’s next-generation Miata platform with the Alfa Romeo brand. Under the proposal, each company would control the design of its vehicle and use its own powertrains.
They also agreed to explore additional cost-saving options, and it appears nothing has happened during the exploratory period to deter them from that path.
The Alfa-Mazda roadster platform feasibility study is scheduled to be wrapped up at the end of September, but bothCEO Sergio Marchionne and Mazda CEO Takashi Yamanouchi say here they already expect that program to go forward as planned.
In a wide-ranging media backgrounder on the sidelines of the Paris auto show, Marchionne says even an equity relationship with Mazda remains on the table.
“Everything is possible,” he says. “We’ve just started. We’ve signed the deal; we’ve visited the plants. Let’s take it one day at a time. We’re open to any solutions that lessen capital (outlays).”
, which continues to hold a leading 2.11% stake in Mazda, could eventually sell off its remaining holdings sooner or later. That could make an equity involvement more attractive to Fiat, which might benefit from an equity toehold in the Asia/Pacific region, where it is not a strong player. Mazda widely has been expected to seek a new primary equity partner as Ford winds down its holdings.
Yamanouchi concurs that nothing is off limits in Mazda’s talks with Fiat, including the auto maker’s emerging Skyactiv vehicle technology. Skyactiv is the auto maker’s new signature brand for a host of technologies aimed at improving fuel efficiency and reducing emissions.
Skyactiv diesel and gasoline engines will power the revamped Mazda6, which was revealed in sedan form earlier this year in Moscow, and in its wagon-body style shown here.
In Europe, Mazda says the diesel engine will account for upwards of 70% of sales. The auto maker also wants to introduce the diesel in North America but has not yet confirmed an application or outlined a timeframe.
“As long as it benefits the Mazda brand,” the auto maker would be willing to share Skyactiv, Yamanouchi says.
Asked for specific areas that Mazda would be interested in collaborating with Fiat, the Mazda CEO says “technology and regions.”
The latter could include sales and distribution tie-ups or other forms of cooperation with Fiat that would expand the Mazda brand’s footprint around the world, Yamanouchi says. That includes South America, particularly in Brazil where Fiat is firmly established, as well as India and Africa.