In addition to plans for sharing the DNA of the new Mazda MX-5 Miata and Alfa Romeo Spider, the two companies might consider sharing more powertrain and vehicle technologies. That collaboration could even see Alfa Romeo and parent brand Fiat using some of Mazda's new fuel-saving SkyActiv technologies.
Alfa Romeo and Mazda announced in May that the companies would work together on a new roadster. Likely to arrive by 2014 or 2015, the next Mazda MX-5 Miata would also be used as the basis for a new Alfa Romeo Spider. However, both companies would use their own powertrains and have unique designs for the twinned cars. A feasibility study for that project is reported to wrap up soon, but executives from Alfa and Mazda told Wards Auto they expect the roadster program will go forward.
After that, there's a possibility the two will continue to cooperate. If Ford fully divests its remaining 2.11-percent stake in Mazda, Alfa Romeo parent company Fiat consider an equity partnership with Mazda. And the two companies are already talking about what other technologies could be shared: most likely, the Japanese automaker's fuel-sipping SkyActiv engines, transmissions, and chassis technologies could be shared with Fiat.
Mazda CEO Takashi Yamanouchi told Wards his company was willing to share things like SkyActiv with Fiat "as long as it benefits the Mazda brand."
Fiat would benefit from having a footprint in Asia. Mazda, meanwhile, has been struggling financially and would likely welcome a new equity partner now that Ford is selling off its stake. Partnering with Mazda also would let the Japanese company expand into regions like South America, where Fiat already has a strong market presence.
Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne is reportedly optimistic about a tie-up between the two companies. "Everything is possible," he told Autocar. "Our relationship has just started. But let's take this thing one step at a time."
In May, reports suggested that Fiat-Chrysler might consider building some Mazda vehicles at its factories. That would help both automakers cut development and production costs. It's unclear whether any Mazdas would be produced at Chrysler plants in the U.S.; the Japanese company recently ended all vehicle production here after it pulled out of the AutoAlliance plant in Michigan.
Fiat has previously partnered with other automakers in order to cut costs. The Fiat 500 was built in a joint venture with the Ford Ka, the Fiat Punto was twinned with the Opel Corsa, and the Fiat Sedici was also paired with the Suzuki SX4.