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Alfa to develop new roadster based on Mazda MX-5
Alfa Romeo is to develop a new rear-wheel drive roadster based on the next-generation Mazda MX-5 platform, following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Mazda and Fiat Group.
The surprise news means Alfa will once again be able to offer a driver-orientated rear-drive roadster that harks back to the famous Alfa Spider of the 1960s.
Mazda and Fiat say the study is non-binding at the moment, and will see both brands develop “differentiated, distinctly styled, iconic and brand-specific lightweight roadsters featuring rear-wheel drive”.
Both cars will be powered by engines unique to each brand.
The two cars will also be produced by Mazda in Japan, with production hopefully starting in 2015.
“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 Mazda president and CEO Takashi Yamanouchi.
“It is especially exciting to be collaborating with such a prestigious marque as Alfa Romeo on a new roadster based on the next-generation MX-5, which is such an iconic vehicle for Mazda and recognized as the best-selling roadster of all time.”
The dramatic news comes as Mazda and Fiat investigate other opportunities to co-operate together in Europe. This will be a fillip to both companies: Fiat does not have a strong presence in Japan and Mazda is a relatively small player in the car industry following its separation from former partner Ford.
“This agreement clearly demonstrates our commitment to Alfa Romeo and the determination to grow it into a truly global brand,” said Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne.
“By partnering with Mazda, we will be co-operating with the recognized leader in compact rear-drive vehicle architectures in order to deliver an exciting and stylish roadster in the Alfa Romeo tradition.
“We are appreciative of this collaboration with Mazda and look forward to maintaining a fruitful and continuous relationship”
The contract for the new co-developed roadster is expected to be signed in the second half of 2012.
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