For most of the last 20 years, Ford and Mazda have enjoyed a symbiotic relationship which worked quite well. Ford needed Mazda’s engineering and Mazda needed Ford’s volume to keep their profit margins. In short, everyone was happy. Then came the recession. Ford needed money and it needed it fast, so they mortgaged their logo, cut staff and closed factories. But curiously, Ford divested a huge chunk of Mazda which netted them, in the auto world, very little money. Ford reduced their 33.4% stake in Mazda to 13.4%, netting $540 million, but effectively losing Mazda. Not that Ford’s Mark Fields is worried.
Bloomberg reports that everyone’s favourite wideboy is Ford-focused. “For a lot of designing and engineering, we’re going to be focused on Ford,” Mark Fields said, “Our efforts will be focused on the Ford system, as opposed to relying on others such as Mazda.”. In other words, we’re on our own.
Trouble is, it needn’t be like this. Mazda CEO, Takashi Yamanouchi, has left the door wide open for Ford. “Right now, it seems both companies are going their separate ways, but in the future there is the possibility of both coming together again,” Yamanouchi said. “We’re sure there will come a time when we will need each other’s technology.”. In other words, we welcome Ford’s help. And they’re not the only people who know that.
“The reality is Mazda is too small to do it on their own,” said Aaron Bragman, auto analyst for IHS Global Insight, “Ford may have other options. They’ve got a European organization that is very good at developing small cars.” In other words, Mazda might want to start looking around for another partner.