The new roadster, announced early last year with Mazda as part of the Japanese carmaker’s next-generation MX-5 project, was originally set to debut as an Alfa sports.
At issue is that Marcchionne won't allow any product carrying the Alfa badge to be manufactured anywhere but in Italy. The contract for the proposed roadster however was to have the Fiat-Mazda roadsters built in Hiroshima.
Now, speaking with press in Geneva this week, Marchionne said there was never an “irrevocable obligation” to work under the Alfa Romeo brand.
"Maybe we will, maybe we won't. The important thing is that industrially the project is moving forward,” he said in a press conference.
Marchionne added that while Fiat is in ongoing talks with Mazda, his company remains committed to using a version of the MX-5 architecture with Fiat’s own powertrains.
In order to keep with that Japanese production agreement, Fiat may instead now launch the new roadster under the Fiat-parent's badge - possibly as a new Barchetta - or as the long-rumoured Abarth Scorpione.
If the new model does appear with a Fiat badge - believed by some to be a more likely direction - it will also give the company an entry-level sports model that would not impact on sales of the coming 4C Spider, revealed in Geneva this week.
Marchionne plans to release a five-year strategy for the Alfa Romeo brand in the coming months, meaning we will know soon enough if the Mazda-based roadster is still alive and if it will wear the Cross and Snake badge.