Alfa Romeo and Fiat have signed an agreement to build a new new RWD roadster based on the next generation Mazda MX-5 platform.
Sergio Marchionne is a big believer that the only way to survive as a mainstream car maker is to be as big as possible and share development costs whenever you can.
Which explains – from the Fiat point of view – why Alfa Romeo has entered in to an agreement to produce a new roadster with Mazda to be based on the next generation Mazda MX-5 RWD platform.
Reuters are saying that the agreement – which currently takes the form of a MOU – will see Alfa and Mazda develop two very distinct roadsters with common underpinnings, with the Mazda MX-5 arriving in 2014 and the Alfa Roadster a year later. Both will be built at Mazda’s Hiroshima plant.
Which all makes perfect sense; an easy way for Alfa to develop a new small roadster by using the underpinnings of the latest version of the most successful roadster in history and a way for Mazda – struggling for profit with a strong Yen – to get extra revenue.
What we don’t understand is why the new Roadsters will both be built in Hiroshima. Surely what Mazda needs is an excuse to build outside Japan to shelter itself from the Yen’s strength, and with Italy probably back on the Lira by the time the Alfa Roadster arrives it’ll probably end up costing the same as a house in Turin if it’s built in Japan.
Which makes us suspect the ‘Made in Japan’ line may turn out to be a touch disingenuous. The ‘plan’ to build in Japan will probably move somewhere cheaper by 2014 and the Fiat Group will end up getting access to Mazda’s SkyActive technology as well as a new Alfa Spider
Which would make sense.