By on June 5, 2011

Rumors began surfacing about a month ago that Mazda was eying a complete pullout from US production, as it endures weak sales of its last American-built product, the Mazda6. Mazda had reportedly planned for 100k units of Mazda6 production at its Flat Rock plant, which it shares with Ford, before the economic crisis sent the US market tumbling. And with only a little more than 36k Mazda6s built alongside the Ford Mustang at Flat Rock last year, Mazda has little reason to maintain its joint venture, and with it, its US manufacturing presence. Now, the Nikkei [via the DetN] reports that Mazda’s pullout is more likely than ever, citing an unnamed Mazda source as saying it hoped to sell its 50% stake in the Flat Rock AutoAlliance plant to Ford as it restructures its global operations.

Mazda insists that its still studying its manufacturing posture, and that the latest news report is “not based on information released by Mazda.” But as any analyst will tell you, this move is practically predetermined by Mazda’s weak sales (just over 100k total units last year, or about the same number it expected from its midsized sedan alone). With Ford and Mazda divorcing after years of unrewarding union, exiting its joint venture plant seems all the more unavoidable. Which raises a few interesting questions, like where will Mazda move its midsized production (with 80% Japanese production and a rising Yen, it will be somewhere new), and what in the Foxtrot is Ford going to do with that capacity?

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22 Comments on “Mazda Likely To Abandon Flat Rock, US Production...”

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    They should have put a grill on it, came out with 4 door hatchback and wagon versions, and ditched the harsh red IP lighting.

    Unfortunate, overall, because Ford helped Mazda with quantity component discounts, and Mazda helped Ford increase their driver involvement aura.

  • avatar
    Dirk Wiggler

    Stretch the Mustang wheelbase half an inch, add two token seats in the back and a traditional roof and give us all the Stang’s styling cues in a four door. But DON’T call it Mustang!

  • avatar

    Dave M is right. Red instrument panel lighting is tawdry and makes gauges harder to read. Pontiac also stubbornly clung to red lighting, again to no benefit.

    This is really off-thread, but I wonder if Mazda would have been better off by going for customers who like/need roomy, boxy high-roof sedans that are durable and thrifty. There was a time when taxi companies and police departments bought an awful lot of Aspens and Volares.

    • 0 avatar

      It is believed that the red instrument lighting affects your night vision less. Because of the wavelength of the red light, your pupils adjust less (ie stay bigger) and you are able to see better in the dark. There may be aesthetic reasons for disliking the red color but you have the science of light to explain working reasons why red light has advantages.

      Volume. Volume. Volume. Mazda needs enough volume to keep a plant busy. There is currently an oversupply of cars so volume is hard to obtain. Just ask Mitsubishi, Pontiac, Mercury, Plymouth. Only one of those brands is (barely) surviving – their current plant is barely utilized.

      • 0 avatar

        IIRC, the idea came from aircraft, where it was once used in military planes for the reason you mentioned. IIARC, the practice was dropped because in order to achieve a useful level of illumination the pilots cranked up the intensity of the light until the overall effect was the opposite of what was intended. Looked cool in old BMWs though.

      • 0 avatar

        Indeed, aircraft lighting for instruments is now subdued white and the electronic displays just dim. If you are military, NVG compatible lighting is the go.

      • 0 avatar

        I liked the red/orange lighting on my Protege5 when I had it. I also liked the white faced gauges that for some reason seem to have gone out of style, they always looked sporty to me.

      • 0 avatar

        I have reddish lighting in my Altima and I like it…

      • 0 avatar

        Submarines used to use red lighting in combat control so that the Officer of the Deck’s eyes would be night adjusted when the optical periscope was raised and used.

  • avatar

    “Which raises a few interesting questions, like where will Mazda move its midsized production”

    Japan. We’ll start getting the international version of the 6 instead of an NA market only model.

    If the rumors of a new plant in Mexico are true, they’re going to have to build a lot more than just the 6 there to be able to fill capacity.

  • avatar

    Maybe Mazda will hire Ford to build the M6 for them in the Ford Fusion/MKX plant in Hermosillo Mexico.

    Don’t forget, at least for the time being, Ford and Mazda have two successful joint ventures in Thailand where they make engines and the T6 light pick-ups called Ranger and B-2000/Fighter.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Exit, stage left. Mazda is the new Isuzu/Suzuki/Mitsubishi.

    BTW, didn’t TTAC just do this Mazda leaving Flat Rock story a few days ago?

  • avatar

    You can’t say that Mazda didn’t try.
    The Mazda 6 is an excellent car.
    It didn’t find enough buyers, that’s all.
    Mazda’s decision is the right one to make after twenty years of trying to make a US plant a good business move.

    The US auto market is too risky right now. Mazda had to decide to gamble with money they did not have in order to remain in a country that has turned it’s nose up at their vehicles.

    I just don’t see Mazda as a big player. You can’t say they didn’t try.

  • avatar

    Seems like a short-sighted move on Mazda’s part. Why not switch to Mazda3 production instead?

  • avatar

    I test drove the Mazda6 right after this generation came out. I really wanted to like it, but I didn’t. It just didn’t have the attention to detail that the Mazda3 did. Mostly, I remember little things, like the mirrors did not fold (critical in our crowded garage), and a cheap headliner. As to the Mazda3. I liked it, but it was just a little down on power. My wife ended up getting a certified used Acura TSX and being very happy with her purchase.

  • avatar

    There isn’t a Mazda dealership anywhere near me so although I love the 3 I have a Focus ST in the driveway with Mazda’s 2.3. Works for me:)

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