Here's a major news story that nearly slipped under the radar. It's the announcement that BMW and Fiat will co-operate on vehicle architecture and components for the Mini and Alfa Romeo brands.
This is huge news. And with the arrival of Alfa Romeo in the US, it means we could be buying rebodied Minis with stylish Italian exteriors for less money than BMW is currently asking for its Cooper models. It also means that the Alfa's arriving here may not be the beautiful but flawed creations their reputation suggests. Furthermore, we might see some free-revving Italian engines to replaces Mini's rather breathless offering, and it will mean the expensive Mini might get cheaper to produce, although don't expect those savings to be passed on to the customer with the current sales success of the brand.
The stuffy official releases states: The BMW Group and Fiat Group Automobiles (FGA) are considering the possibility of co-operation in the areas of architectures and components for their Mini and Alfa Romeo vehicles. A Memorandum of Understanding to this effect was signed by Friedrich Eichiner, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for Corporate and Brand Development, and Alfredo Altavilla, Senior Vice President, Business Development, Fiat Group Automobiles and CEO of Fiat Powertrain Technologies.
"We are currently examining with the Fiat Group possibilities for the joint use of components and systems in Mini and Alfa Romeo vehicles in order to achieve economies of scale and thus cost reductions within the framework of our Strategy Number One", Eichiner said in Munich. "The proposed co-operation with BMW is a significant cornerstone of our strategy of alliances. We are delighted to work with such an esteemed and respected partner in the automotive industry with the clear objective of improving the competitive position of both parties," Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Group and FGA, said in Turin. The two partners have agreed not to divulge details of the possible collaboration. The results of the co-operation discussions will probably be achieved by the end of the year.