TOKYO/TURIN -- Fiat Group and Mazda Motor Corp. plan to develop and build a new roadster for the Mazda and Alfa Romeo brands, the companies said today.
Alfa will launch its version of the roadster in global markets starting in 2015. It will be sold as the Alfa Spider in the United States and will mark the brand's hotly awaited return to the world's biggest market for two-seat sports cars, Fiat said.
The jointly developed car will be built at Mazda's factory in Hiroshima. It will be a successor to the rear-wheel-drive MX-5/Miata roadster and will have distinct styling for each brand.
Details of a memorandum of understanding are expected to be finalized in the second half of 2012, the companies said. The deal does not involve a capital tie-up.
Engineers from both companies are studying how to cooperate on a joint vehicle that will be an "iconic," lightweight, rear-drive roadster with differentiated design and identity for each brand, a joint statement said. The car would be based on MX-5 architecture.
Fiat and Mazda are also talking about further cooperation in Europe, they said. Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported that the automakers are discussing a partnership to expand overseas sales channels.
Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne said in the statement: "This agreement clearly demonstrates our commitment to Alfa Romeo and the determination to grow it into a truly global brand."
By partnering with Mazda, Alfa will be cooperating with the recognized leader in compact rear-drive vehicle architectures to deliver an exciting and stylish roadster for Alfa, Marchionne said.