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Mazda Lines Up Alfa, Toyota While Looking for More Alliance Partners

by on Jan.21, 2013

Mazda's new deal with Alfa will help both makers develop new sports cars - including a replacement for the current Mazda Miata.

Little Mazda is lining up some big partners.

Struggling to regain its footing after the collapse of its decades-old alliance with Ford Motor Co., the Japanese maker has been looking for new opportunities and, in recent months, it has inked several potentially lucrative deals that could help it flesh out its product portfolio and shore up its bottom line.

The latest deal pairs Mazda with Alfa Romeo, the struggling subsidiary of Italy’s Fiat SpA. Last week, the two confirmed that Mazda will use one of its Japanese assembly plants to produce a new sports car both for its own dealers as well as Alfa’s.

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Separately, Mazda has signed a deal with Toyota that will see the smaller maker produce vehicles for the Japanese giant at a new factory in Mexico.

“I think you’re going to see us do more alliances where it fits the brand,” Jim O’Sullivan, CEO of Mazda’s U.S. subsidiary, tells


Mazda Will Build New Small Car for Toyota

Mazda Mexico plant could prove replacement for Toyota Yaris.

by on Nov.09, 2012

Mazda will produce a small car based on this Mazda2 for Toyota.

Toyota plans to team up with erstwhile Japanese rival Mazda to produce a new small car that would either replace or share the mini-car market with the Japanese giant’s existing Yaris model.

The new model, the two makers today confirmed, will be based on the same platform as the little Mazda2 and will be produced at the factory Mazda is now building in Mexico.

The announcement underscores the shifting strategies redefining the auto industry. Long determined to do just everything on its own, Toyota has been rapidly inking an assortment of alliances with traditional competitors like Ford, BMW, and now Mazda.

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For the smaller Japanese maker, the move could be equally significant.  The current Mazda2 was developed as part of a long-running alliance with Ford Motor Co. But the U.S. maker has steadily wound down that relationship since Alan Mulally signed on as CEO six years ago, leaving Mazda searching for a new partner.


Mazda Set to Build Last Car in the U.S.

Japanese maker will walk away from joint venture with Ford.

by on Aug.24, 2012

Ford will continue to build Mustangs at the AutoAlliance plant in Michigan.

Little Mazda Motors has long been known for doing things its own way, sticking with the rotary engine, for one thing, decades after other manufacturers gave up on the fuel-inefficient technology.  And the step the maker is expected to take today again runs counter to general industry trends.  But it leaves many industry observers wondering whether it will leave the Japanese maker at a serious competitive disadvantage.

Sometime today, the very last Mazda6 sedan will roll off the AutoAlliance International assembly line in Flat Rock, Michigan.  Mazda has been building cars at the facility in suburban Detroit for the last quarter century, having set up AAI as a joint venture with long-time partner Ford Motor Co.

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But Ford has all but completely walked away from that trans-Pacific partnership, selling off all but a small stake in Mazda in recent years and ending decades of product sharing programs.  Mazda, in turn, has been looking for a new partner and, with sales of the Mazda6 on the decline, it decided to walk away from the assembly plant joint venture – turning to a factory in Japan for the soon-to-be-updated Mazda6 model.


Mazda Moving Mazda6 Production Back to Japan

Maker still studying “future opportunities” for U.S. plant.

by on Jun.06, 2011

Mazda confirms it will pull production of the Mazda6 sedan out of the U.S.

Mazda has confirmed that it will end U.S. production of its Mazda6, the next-generation midsize sedan to be built at its main plant in Japan.

But the maker says it is still studying “future opportunities” for the suburban Detroit factory it currently operates as part of a decades-old joint venture with Ford Motor Co.  Industry insiders nonetheless Mazda will eventually pull out of the partnership, which could lead to the closure of the factory, which currently produces both the Mazda6 and the Ford Mustang.

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Currently, Mazda produces the slow-selling Mazda6 at three factories, the AutoAlliance International facility in Flat Rock, Michigan, the FAW plant in Changchun, China, and the maker’s main assembly line, in Hofu, Japan.

With demand down it makes little sense to keep production spread out, acknowledged Mazda CEO Takashi Yamanouchi, confirming recent media reports, including an extensive analysis on last week.


Mazda Reportedly to Stop Building Cars in U.S.

Maker will leave long-time joint venture with Ford.

by on Jun.03, 2011

Mazda is expected to abandon the U.S. plant it now operates with Ford and may also cancel production of the midsize Mazda6.

Mazda appears ready to end a nearly quarter century-old joint venture with Ford Motor Co. and stop producing cars in the United States.

The apparent decision reflects the fact that Ford has sold off all but a small portion of its holdings in the Japanese maker – as well as the reality that the Mazda6 model produced in the Flat Rock, Michigan plant has not been doing well in the American market.

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Officially known as AutoAlliance International, the plant was opened in 1987 and marked the high-water point in the long-running relationship between Mazda and Ford.  The U.S. maker had acquired a controlling stake in its Asian ally, which was then struggling to overcome a series of setbacks.  Ford even got to name the CEO at Mazda and appointed a number of Western managers – a rarity at the time.


Will Mazda Abandon Michigan Assembly Plant?

Maker could turn factory over to Ford.

by on Feb.21, 2011

Mazda may seen be looking for a new place to build the midsize Mazda6 sedan.

Continuing to unwind their decades-old relationship, Mazda Motors is considering whether to walk away from the Michigan assembly plant it operates as part of a joint venture with Ford Motor Co.

The move would be the latest in a generally genial corporate divorce that was triggered by Ford’s decision to sell off most of its stake in Mazda, last year.  At one point, the U.S. maker was the dominant shareholder in its Japanese partner, but Ford now holds just a 3.5% stake.

A final decision on whether to maintain the AutoAlliance International joint venture will be announced later this year, said Mazda Chief Financial Officer Kiyoshi Ozaki.  If Mazda does pull out of the two-decade-old Flat Rock plant the future of the factory would be left in jeopardy, industry observers warn.

The factory has the capacity to produce 240,000 vehicles annually, and needs to build at least 170,000 to break even, according to Ozaki.  But last year it produced just 114,000 – 36,000 Mazda6 sedans and 78,000 Ford Mustangs.