Mazda and Fiat Sign Agreement for New Alfa Romeo Roadster

Miata’s original starting price was $14,000. Early production couldn’t keep up with sales of what was, paradoxically, the last of the British roadsters.

Mazda Motor Corporation and Fiat Group Automobiles S.p.A.  announced today the formal  signing an agreement that will have Mazda produce a convertible two-seater sports car for Fiat’s Alfa Romeo brand at its Hiroshima, Japan plant starting in  2015. (See AutoInformed on Fiat and Mazda to Develop a Sports Car for Alfa and Mazda)

The new Alfa Romeo roadster will be developed for the global market, and will be based on the architecture of the next generation Mazda MX-5. The agreement, according to Fiat will allow Mazda and Fiat to develop “two differentiated, distinctly styled,” brand-specific rear-wheel drive roadsters. The Mazda and Alfa Romeo semi-clones will each be powered by specific proprietary engines unique to each brand.

Through this contractual agreement, cash strapped Mazda will use development and production efficiencies to continue its sports car tradition. Total production of the MX-5, aka Miata or Mazda Roadster in Japan, reached 900,000 units on 4 February 2011, 21 years and 10 months after mass production of the first-generation MX-5 began in April 1989. At introduction it was the last of the British roadsters, albeit in a wildly successful Japanese interpretation.

“Establishing technology and product development alliances is one of Mazda’s corporate objectives and this announcement with Fiat is an important first step in that direction said Takashi Yamanouchi, Mazda’s Representative Director and Chairman of the Board, President and CEO last May when  the then non-binding  MOU was announced. Mazda is facing a liquidity crisis now that it can no longer rely on former owner Ford Motor for capital.

Mazda made a public offering of shares last March and obtained financing through a subordinated loan to raise funds to strengthen its weak financial base. Because of the issuance of new shares, the total number of shares outstanding has increased to 2,999,377,399 out of an incorporation limit of 3,000,000,000.

For cash strapped Fiat Group, the collaboration will allow the  company to deliver a modern interpretation of a classic Alfa Romeo roadster. The Turin based conglomerated  recorded a Q3 profit of €286 million or $371 million (2011 €112 m) as Chrysler earnings in North America offset losses in Europe. Without Chrysler, Fiat would have lost -€281 million in the quarter. (Read AutoInformed on Fiat Group Doubles Q3 Profit to €286 Million. Revenue €951 Million)

About Ken Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print, broadcast and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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