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Struggling Mazda “Actively” Seeking Partners

Could someone step in to fill Ford’s shoes?

by on Feb.14, 2012

Mazda's Takeri concept with CEO Takashi Yamanouchi.

Racking up mounting losses, Mazda is facing serious challenges that may require it to turn outside for help to resolve, the maker’s CEO confides.

That could mean seeking out a new partner to replace the once-powerful alliance between the Japanese automaker and America’s Ford Motor Co.  It could also force Mazda to have to share its new and highly-touted SkyActiv powertrain technology with an erstwhile competitor.

Mazda is in a serious bind.  The maker is forecasting a $1.3 billion loss for the current fiscal year, which ends March 31.  And it is struggling to reverse a sales slide that saw it drop to 1.25 million units, a 2% dip, in calendar 2011.

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The maker is meanwhile getting ready to walk away from its long-time manufacturing joint venture with Ford, known as Auto Alliance, where it had been producing the Mazda6 alongside the U.S. maker’s Mustang and other models.  Though Mazda plans to produce some of its smaller models – the Mazda2 and Mazda3 — in Mexico, it will be particularly vulnerable to lopsided exchange rates once the Mazda6 returns to Japan.