RAC Cars News


Unexpected Automotive Alliances

By raccars Published

The auto industry has seen a number of unusual or unexpected alliances lately in the relentless quest to defray the high development and production expenses involved in creating new models. One of the latest such pairings is Mazda and Alfa Romeo, in which the two companies will pool their resources, to each make their own version of zippy, two-seater convertible sports cars that, having emanated from the same factory, will then compete against each other in the marketplace.

While the rewards of such allegiances can be high – although usually of far more benefit to one company than the other - the risks are also legion, including the weakening of brand images and corporate discord.

Alfa Romeo and Mazda

Both companies have captured the hearts of roadster enthusiasts with their Spider and MX-5 models, respectively. However in commercial terms, roadsters are hard to make profitable. They are simply not produced in high enough volume to use factories to capacity. Given this, the plan to share resources makes sense, allowing both companies to lower costs by maximising plant capacity. In this case, the factory is owned by Mazda in Japan and the two cars will be distinguishable by their separate bodywork and engines.

Subaru and Toyota

A similar situation exists with the new, muscular rear-wheel drive coupe, released as the BRZ by Subaru and the GT86 by Toyota. From a distance you won't be able to tell the difference between the two and up close only the badging and some minor trim elements will give the game away. However, with footholds in different international markets, the two brands' hook up will give them blanket coverage.

Chrysler and Mercedes

Both companies are owned by Daimler, which saw fit to donate the Mercedes-Benz SLK blueprint to Chrysler, which simply gave it a new and arguably less stylish outfit and renamed it the Crossfire. In its turn, Mercedes updated the SLK and most drivers are none the wiser to the relationship between the two cars.

Honda and Isuzu

When Honda found itself missing a stake in the booming SUV market in the 1990s, an easier solution than creating its own was to appropriate and rebadge the existing Isuzu Rodeo, then sell it in virtually identical form.

Volkswagen and Chrysler

As a result of commercial expediency, VW found itself putting its badges on Chrysler minivans for sale in the US market. US buyers love their minivans and, rather than starting from scratch, VW executive, Wolfgang Bernhard, drew upon his connections from his previous job at Daimler Chrysler, to use its Town & Country model and rename it the Routan.

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