Mazda Says Sayonara To Flat Rock, Good Riddance To Ford

mazda says sayonara to flat rock good riddance to ford

Today, the last Mazda6 will “roll off the assembly line in Flat Rock today as the Japanese automaker hands the keys to the plant back to its one-time parent, Ford Motor Co.,” says the Detroit News. It is part of a sad and messy affair that makes Ford look stupid and vindictive.

The AutoAlliance International plant has been run as a joint venture between Ford and Mazda since 1992. Officially, the plant remains a 50-50 joint venture between the two automakers while both are looking into a final dissolution. Ford spokesman Todd Nissen: “We continue to study various possibilities for the future of AAI, but we don’t have anything to announce at this time.” The next-generation Mazda6 will be built in Japan.

Ford had bought a small stake in Mazda in 1979, and increased its holdings until Ford was Mazda’s largest shareholder and effectively controlled the company. Ford and Mazda shared plants and platforms throughout the world.

“When the financial crisis struck the auto industry in 2008, CEO Alan Mulally believed Ford’s engineers were using Mazda as a crutch,” says the DetN. More importantly, Ford’s shares of Mazda “were one of the few things Ford could still sell after mortgaging almost everything else to finance Mulally’s restructuring plan.” Ford reduced its 33.4 percent of Mazda to 13 percent in 2008, and cut the remainder down to a symbolic three percent in 2010. Sumitomo group firms and other companies with which Mazda enjoys close business ties were the buyers.

The formerly amicable relationship between Ford and Mazda quickly turned hostile after the first chunk of shares was turned into badly needed cash. If an executive from Ford wanted to attend a meeting at Mazda, the matters discussed had to be carefully vetted beforehand and signed-off in advance.

Former Japan-insider Ford turned into an enemy of Japan. Ford is a ringleader in the new rounds of Japan-bashing, it financed the embarrassing new “study” of the American Automotive Policy Council, which repeated old charges of a closed Japanese market, and of imperiled American jobs. Hopefully, Ford did not pay too much for the study. It was a re-release of old fiction, a sloppy re-hash of old lies without new proof.

As the former manager of a Japanese car company, Ford has intimate knowledge of Japanese business practices. If Ford can’t come up with proof to back up its embarrassing and childish allegations, we can safely assume that there is none. Mazda, which has most of its production in Japan, is worst-hit by the obscenely high yen, and must mutter choice Japanese invectives when Ford’s executives or presumptive researchers paid by Ford tell their crude lies about Japanese currency manipulation. If there is one Japanese car company that could need a free trade pact between Japan and America, then it’s Mazda. Its estranged mother Ford is against it.

Join the conversation
2 of 74 comments
  • Pch101 Pch101 on Aug 25, 2012

    "Former Japan-insider Ford turned into an enemy of Japan. Ford is a ringleader in the new rounds of Japan-bashing, it financed the embarrassing new “study” of the American Automotive Policy Council" Honestly, this is a very odd statement. Ford has been supporting lobbying against the Japanese auto industry for quite a long time. This was true during the time that it owned an interest in Mazda. There are European automakers that also oppose Japan being part of the trade pact. Here's a press release from the ACEA (European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association) that argues against it. (You will notice VAG, Mercedes and BMW are all ACEA members): So, Ford isn't doing anything that every other automaker in the US and Europe isn't doing with respect to Japan, and Ford's position now isn't different from it was before. This "grudge against Mazda" angle has no substance to it. Follow the money, and it should be pretty obvious why American and European automakers don't want to help their Japanese competitors to increase their exports.

  • Billfrombuckhead Billfrombuckhead on Aug 25, 2012

    "is worst-hit by the obscenely high yen"?????????????? Only Zimbabwe has a higher debt per capita than Japan! Japan has been cooking their currency for decades with American companies, American workers and Japanese consumers suffering from this state socialist policy. Adam Smith called this mercantilism and was against it. If Japan is such an open market why did uber competitor Hyundai have to withdraw from Japan?

  • Snickel Fritz I just bought a '97 JX 4WD 4AT, and though it's not quite roadworthy yet I am already in awe of it's simplicity and apparent ruggedness. What I am equally in awe of, is the scarcity of not only parts but correct information regarding anything on this platform. I'm going to do my best to get this little donkey back on it's feet, but I wouldn't suggest this as a project vehicle for anyone who doesn't already have several... and a big impressive shop with a full suite of fabrication/machining/welding equipment, and friends with complimentary skillsets, and extra money, and... you get the idea. If you don't, I urge you to read up on the options for replacing anything on these rigs. I didn't read enough before buying, and I have zero of the above suggested prerequisites... so I'm an idiot, don't listen to me. Go buy all of 'em!
  • Bryan Raab Davis I actually did use the P of D trope, but it was only gentle chiding, for I love old British cars of every sort.
  • ScarecrowRepair The 1907 Panic had several causes of increased demand for money:[list][*]The semi-annual shift of money between farms and cities (to buy for planting and selling harvests)[/*][*]Britain and Germany borrowing for their naval arms race[/*][*]San Francisco reconstruction borrowing after the 1906 earthquake and fire[/*][/list]Two things made it worse:[list][*]Idiotic bans on branch banking, which prevented urban, rural, and other state branches from shifting funds to match demands. This same problem made the Great Depression far worse. Canada, which allowed branch banking, had no bank failures; the US had 9000 failures.[/*][*]Idiotic reserve requirements left over from the Civil War which prevented banks from loaning money; they eventually started honoring IOUs illegally and started the recovery.[/*][/list]Been a while since I read up on it, so I may have some of the details wrong. But it was an amazing clusterfart which could have been avoided or at least tamed sooner if states and the feds hadn't been so ham handed.
  • FreedMike Maybe this explains all the “Idiots wrecking exotic cars” YouTube videos.
  • FreedMike Good article! And I salute the author for not using the classic “Lucas - prince of darkness” trope, well earned as it may be. We all know the rap on BL cars, but on the flip side, they’re apparently pretty easy to work on (at least that’s the impression I’ve picked up). On the other hand, check the panel fits on the driver’s and passenger’s doors. Clearly, BL wasn’t much concerned with things like structural integrity when it chopped the roof off a car designed as a coupe.