Mazda and Fiat looking for other joint projects aside from roadster deal

Article by Anita Panait, on December 4, 2012

While Mazda and Fiat are finalizing a deal to collaborate on producing roadsters, the carmakers are also looking to work on other possible joint projects, Mazda chief executive Takashi Yamanouchi said at the Los Angeles auto show. According to Yamanouchi, engineers from Mazda and Fiat are drawing up an "opportunity list" of potential vehicle projects.

He, however, declined to name the projects under consideration. During the Paris auto show in September, Yamanouchi disclosed that Fiat chief executive Sergio Marchionne expressed its intention to expand their partnership, which involves jointly developing roadsters to be the next-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata and Alfa Romeo Spider. Yamanouchi said that engineers from both carmakers are meeting with each other, which can lead to new possibilities.

According to Yamanouchi, he and Marchionne agreed to finalize the roadster deal by the end of 2012, adding "that there are no major issues at this point." However, a broad alliance or equity sharing deal is not a possibility as Mazda has made clear its intention to remain independent. The roadster deal is currently governed by a memorandum of understanding.

Part of the roadster deal lays out Fiat's intentions to work with Mazda in Europe, where the Italian carmaker runs the plant at low output levels. Yamanouchi said that Fiat is perhaps looking for some kind of cooperation to assist it with its low production level problem. Yamanouchi remarked that producing Mazda vehicles at Fiat plants in Europe is under consideration, but it remains concerned about the viability of such a project.

Mazda’s facelifted MX-5 is now more fun to drive. The latest version of history’s best-selling roadster features not just more responsive braking and acceleration, but also a front end with an aggressive design and enhanced pedestrian safety.

Technology specialists at Mazda have fine-tuned the manual shift models’ acceleration management program in order to improve acceleration control as well as linear response to the throttle input, particularly at lower speeds. They also improved brake return control by optimizing the vacuum brake booster. The upshot is better handling due to the superior front-rear load distribution. These advancements are most beneficial when accelerating out or braking into curves. Overall, the new Mazda MX-5 continues to excel on winding roads and now reacts more faithfully than ever.

Furthermore, the newly reinvented MX-5 features a new active bonnet system that automatically raises the hood in the event that it hits a pedestrian. This enlarges the crumple zone, therefore preventing or lessening the severity of injuries to the pedestrian, particularly to the head. What’s more, the front bumper’s lower section has been reinforced to protect passengers’ legs better. Needless to say, the Mazda MX-5 is ready and prepared for stricter European pedestrian safety standards.

Topics: mazda, fiat, roadster

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