The Mazda Miata is one of the best-selling two-seater sportscars of all time, but at 15,000 units sold annually, it’s still a relatively low volume product. Couple that with the fact that the Miata’s small rear-wheel drive platform can’t be used elsewhere in Mazda’s portfolio and the little roadster becomes an expensive proposition for the Japanese automaker.
For that reason, the ND Miata almost never came to fruition, Mazda revealed to The Detroit News in a recent interview. A true business case for the new two-seater only arose after it found a production partner in Fiat Chrysler – a coupling that resulted in the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider.
“The possibility exists that without our partnership with FCA, there may not have been a business case to produce the fourth-generation MX-5 Miata,” Mazda U.S. vice president Robert Davis said.
The partnership was a no-brainer for both automakers. By partnering with Mazda, cash-strapped Fiat was able to bring an attention-grabbing sportscar to market it otherwise wouldn’t have been able to. For Mazda’s part, it had a keen interest in keeping the iconic and much-loved Miata around – a vehicle that epitomizes the fun-loving ‘Zoom Zoom’ brand.
“If you look at where FCA is at and where are the most important places to put our money, a 124 Spider heritage car might not be at the top of the list,” said Fiat North America boss Bob Broderdorf. “Unique partnerships allow us to bring a car like this to market.”
So whether you prefer the sporty-looking ND Miata or the throwback 124 Spider, you have the purveyors of both cars to thank for their existence. Partnerships such as the one with Mazda will become more commonplace for FCA going forward as it looks for partners to produce replacements for the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart.