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Next Mazda6 to go global
Plant switch: Mazda will produce North America's next-generation Six at its Hofu plant in Japan (current Mazda6 shown).
Mazda to build its next Six for the US alongside Australia’s version in Japan
8 June 2011
FOUR days after Mazda admitted it was “studying various possibilities” for its US joint-venture factory with Ford, the Japanese car-maker has announced it will switch production of North America’s next-generation Mazda6 to Japan from suburban Detroit.
Mazda says the announcement, which followed media reports predicting the Mazda6 would no longer be built in the US, has no affect on its Australian plans.
Mazda Australia spokesman Steve Maciver said: “The production shift means absolutely nothing for Mazda6 here in Australia. It’s business as usual for us.”
However, the news makes it likely the next-generation Mazda6 – which will be powered by an all-new SkyActiv-D turbo-diesel engine that consumes as little as 4.2L/100km – will be a global model.
The current US-market Mazda6 sedan is slightly larger than the version built in Japan for that nation, Europe and Australia. Mazda’s C/D-segment mid-sizer is also built by FAW Car Co in Changchun, China.
In a statement issued on June 7, Mazda Motor Corporation said the next mid-size car for North America would be built at its Hofu plant in Yamaguchi prefecture, “as part of ongoing efforts to increase global manufacturing efficiencies”.
Left: Mazda6 production at the Hofu plant.
Mazda said North America’s current Mazda6 would continue to be built at the Flat Rock plant in Michigan – which was established in 1985 and became a 50/50 joint-venture with Ford when AutoAlliance International was created in 1992 – until the end of its life cycle, which is expected to be around mid-2012.
The company said it is “conducting various studies with Ford on the future of AAI and will announce details at the appropriate time”.
Despite Ford relinquishing its controlling interest in Mazda last year, the auto-makers continue to be involved in a number of joint-ventures globally, including AAT in Thailand, where the Ranger/BT-50 and Fiesta/Mazda2 are produced.
Mazda has produced more than 1.7 million vehicles in Detroit since 1987 – and more than 500,000 since it became known as AAI – including the MX-6, 626 and, since 2002, Mazda6.
However, sales of the latest Mazda6 slumped by 53 per cent in May to just 1639 vehicles, and remain nine per cent down so far this year at 13,604 sales.
According to Automotive News, AAI posted a $US102.6 million loss for the Japanese fiscal year that ended on March 31, making North America the only Mazda subsidiary to be unprofitable last year.
AAI’s continuing losses in 2010 were accompanied by unfavourable currency rates that reduced the profit margins of Mazda models and other vehicles exported to the US from Japan.
Mazda Motor Corporation chairman, president and CEO, Takashi Yamanouchi said the move to consolidate Mazda6 production at Hofu was to improve production and investment efficiencies.
“The decision was made after carefully assessing all risks and opportunities, including global needs, changing demand in North America and exchange rate exposure. Going forward, Mazda will strive to maintain and grow our business in America.
“The decision to relocate to Hofu and consolidate the production of the next CD-car, makes the most sense for our business.
“However, we are committed to working with Ford, our joint-venture partner in AAI, to identify potential future opportunities for the plant.
“Mazda and Ford have enjoyed a close relationship for over 30 years. We have collaborated on projects where there are mutual benefits, and both companies remain committed to continuing this strategic partnership.”