Mazda is considering suspending production of its cars at its US joint venture with Ford – the AutoAlliance International plant in Flat Rock, Michigan – as the operation has remained unprofitable for some time, company sources said.
While halting production in the US, the automaker aims to reorganise its overseas operations, shifting manufacturing to Russia and other emerging economies, the sources told Kyodo News.
Mazda is studying a plan to transfer production of the 6, called the Atenza in Japan, to a factory in Japan in 2013 at the earliest, while keeping its stake in the USventure, with an eye to possibly resuming production if market conditions improve, they said.
Ford will continue production at the plant which began production in 1987 as Mazda’s first manufacturing base abroad. It became a joint operation with Ford as the US automaker bought a 50% interest in the company in 1992.
Its annual output has fallen well below 200,000 vehicles, including cars produced by Ford, against the two firms’ combined capacity of 240,000 units.
While the US operation falters, Mazda plans to begin assembly of several tens of thousands of vehicles per year in Russia by shipping components there in light of Moscow’s policy to raise tariffs on imported cars, the sources said.
The company also intends to open a plant in Mexico with trading house Sumitomo as early as 2013, with the aim of raising annual output of small and other vehicles to 200,000 units in the future, according to the sources.