Mazda eyes business tieup with Fiat in October

Kyodo, JIJI

Mazda Motor Corp. is considering entering a formal business alliance with the Fiat group as early as next month, according to Mazda President Takashi Yamanouchi.

“We would like an agreement next month or (at the latest) by the end of the year,” Yamanouchi said Thursday at the 2012 Paris Motor Show, where the automaker unveiled its Mazda6 wagon, known as the Atenza in Japan.

“We are looking forward to a good outcome,” he said.

Under the envisioned alliance, Mazda would supply the platform for a new version of the Roadster sports car for use in the Spider model of the Alfa Romeo, a Fiat group brand.

Yamanouchi also said they are “openly discussing” collaboration in other areas beside the platform business, but he ruled out an equity alliance, adding that any cooperation with Fiat outside the sports car business won’t be considered “until Mazda sees its share price rise and builds a strong brand.”

Yamanouchi admitted that the boycott of Japanese goods in China stemming from the territorial dispute has been affecting the company’s operations there, including the cancellation of a test-drive event.

“The (company’s Chinese manufacturing) plants are joint ventures and plant workers are Chinese. Also, Mazda’s dealerships there are Chinese firms with Chinese employees,” he said, adding that “(the boycott) will not last long.”

“Although the Chinese market’s growth has been slowing, it will still be a market of 20 million to 30 million units (annually),” Yamanouchi said, hinting that the market holds steady demand potential.