Mazda plans to move production of the Mazda6 sedan to Yamaguchi Prefecture from the Flat Rock, Michigan plant it shares with Ford. Japanese broadcaster NHK reports that Japanese production of the Mazda6 could begin as early as 2013.
The Michigan plant, operated by AutoAlliance International, is a joint venture between Mazda and Ford where each own a 50 percent share. The Flat Rock plant currently builds the Mazda6 and the fifth-generation Mustang. Despite a comprehensive refresh in 2009, and positive reviews from automotive media, production has fallen substantially over the last several years, and the joint venture has been losing money. Mazda is expected to negotiate a complete withdrawal from the joint venture with Ford.
Although Flat Rock is Mazda’s only U.S. production site, the automaker plans to build a factory in Mexico which will maintain the Japanese automaker’s manufacturing presence in North America. The Mexico-based plant will build cars for the rapidly growing Central and South American markets as well as exports to the U.S. and Canada. Ford also builds the Mazda Tribute small SUV for the Japanese manufacturer at its Kansas City, Missouri facility.
“The company has been discussing future plans for our U.S. factory with Ford,” Ken Haruki, a spokesman for Mazda in Tokyo told Bloomberg, “but we have nothing to announce at this time. We do not comment on speculation.”
Updated: Mazda has officially announced plans to build its next-generation CD-car at its Hofu factory in Japan. The upcoming midsize car replaces the current Mazda 6 and will be sold in the U.S. The current Mazda 6 will continue to be built at the AutoAlliance plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, until the end of the car’s life, as well as at plants in Japan and Changchun, China.
Mazda says it will work with Ford to determine the future of the Flat Rock plant, which had been a joint-venture between the two automakers since 1992. The decision to move production from Michigan to Japan was reportedly fueled by Mazda’s concerns over exchange rates and demand for vehicles in the U.S.