Fiat and Mazda are teaming up to produce a new generation of sports cars.
They’ve agreed in principle to develop and build models for their respective Mazda and Alfa Romeo brands based on the MX-5 – which is the best-selling two-seat convertible sports car in history.
Mazda – which is Japan’s fifth-largest car maker – has been looking for a partner to replace Ford and share future development costs.
While the deal would not bring significant immediate gains for Mazda, it will be positive long-term, especially if the collaboration deepens, some analysts said.
“I see this as positive news,” said UBS auto analyst Tatsuo Yoshida.
“The MX-5 is an iconic car in Mazda’s line-up, and the lightweight roadster is part of its heritage as a maker of sporty cars. But developing the next iteration for Mazda alone would have been difficult to justify, and this arrangement allows them to do that,” Yoshida added.
Fiat has been especially vocal about looking for more automotive alliances, particularly with an Asian partner, after taking control of Chrysler to help it reach global sales of 6 million vehicles in 2014.
Both Mazda and Fiat played down the possibility of an equity alliance, saying their non-binding memorandum of understanding did not involve such talks. The companies will, however, discuss further opportunities to cooperate in Europe, they said in a statement.