Persuading Mazda of Japan to make roadsters for Fiat’s storied Alfa Romeo sports car subsidiary sounds like a marriage made in heaven. After all, adding the Mazda MX-5 Miata’s rock solid reliability and go-cart like handling to Alfa’s pizzazz seems like a winning combination.
And some analysts greeted the news as a great way to relaunch Alfa Romeo of Italy in the U.S.
But Deutsche Bank’s London based analyst Jochen Gehrke wasn’t too impressed with the news Wednesday that Mazda would develop and build a new rear-drive roadster which would also be used by Alfa Romeo and maybe sold as the Spider in the U.S. from 2015.
Gehrke, looking at the new project as a pointer to curing Mazda’s chronic losses, reinvigorating Alfa Romeo, or boosting Fiat, didn’t think it would add up to much for any of the above.
“MX5 sales are tiny to start with, at around 15,000 units (a year), hence added economies of scale should be limited. We wonder whether a rebadged Japan-produced mass market vehicle from a competitor will help to revive Alfa Romeo and catch up with foreign brands,” Gehrke said.
His report was headed “Fiat joins forces on roadsters with Mazda – we fail to get excited”.
“Given Mazda’s overall limited scale (about one million units a year) but wide geographical spread we would also fail to see a wider cooperation as a significant event for Fiat. The auto industry has many examples of by-product relationships. This is yet another one with limited impact on the prospects of the business, in our view,” said Gehrke.