Mazda Motor has begun production of the CX-3 subcompact crossover SUV at its Hofu Plant No.1 in Yamaguchi, Japan. It's already made at the automaker's Ujina No.1 plant in Hiroshima, and at Rayong in Thailand. Production in Nanjing by the Changan-Mazda joint venture should follow later in 2017, according to just-auto's PLDB database.

"The move strengthens the automaker's supply system for SUV vehicles, demand for which continues to grow globally," Mazda said in a statement.

Ujina production began in December 2014 and AutoAlliance (Thailand) production began in October last year. Ujina Plant No.1 also produces the CX-5 and CX-9.

"Moving a portion of CX-3 production to Hofu enhances the company's ability to supply these models and respond quickly and flexibly to growing demand for SUVs globally."

Bringing production online at Hofu went smoothly thanks to Bundled Product Planning and Common Architecture Concept,  key components of the company's Monotsukuri Innovation initiatives in product planning and production.

Mazda is aiming to create a flexible production system capable of producing up to 50% crossover vehicles as the company works to meet its global sales goal of 1.65m units as laid out in its Structural Reform Stage 2 medium-term business plan (covering the period from fiscal year ending 31 March 2017 to 31 March 2019.

"We're aiming for a production system that gives us more flexibility in terms of plants and models, so we can get our cars to customers around the world as quickly as possible," said Masatoshi Maruyama, managing executive officer in charge of global production. "Achieving this will help create a stronger foundation for our business."

A planning method that looks at trends five to 10 years ahead, identifies what products and technologies will be needed, and creates a comprehensive plan for all products to be sold during the period, Mazda's Bundled Product Planning identifies what elements can be common to all vehicles and what elements need to be unique to each car line. The aim is to maximise the individual appeal of each model at the same time as creating common vehicle structures and manufacturing processes that enable the efficient manufacture of various future products.

Under the company's Common Architecture concept, the core characteristics of each component are common across all car lines regardless of segment or engine displacement. Parts for different models differ in size but share the same design characteristics, making it possible to develop and produce a variety of products using the same processes.