Mazda Taps Americas Boss As New CEO; No Shortage of Risk Lies Ahead

mazda taps americas boss as new ceo no shortage of risk lies ahead

The man who spent the last five years overseeing Mazda’s North American operations will soon lead the company. Akira Marumoto, 60, takes the helm of the automaker on June 26th, the company announced Friday.

The moves comes as Mazda prepares to introduce a revolutionary type of gasoline engine, the Skyactiv-X, in the hopes of proving its complete reliance on internal combustion cars does not make it a dinosaur.

Marumoto, seen in the center of the above photo, accepted his current position in June of 2013. In succeeding president and CEO Masamichi Kogai (who becomes chairman), Marumoto must continue growing the automaker’s global sales and making the best of its strategic partnership with Toyota. It’s a good thing Marumoto knows a lot about the Americas.

Under Kogai, Mazda continued with its plan to put high-compression Skyactiv engines in all of its vehicles while moving the brand slightly upmarket. The current-generation MX-5 and CX-3 subcompact crossover appeared on his watch, while the latter vehicle’s platform mate, the Mazda 2 (Demio), arrived in the Americas as a Toyota-badged vehicle. Speaking of that automaker, the 2015 partnership came about after Mazda, being of limited resources, decided Toyota’s electrification technology could help it keep up with green vehicle expectations — while cutting down on R&D costs.

Toyota bought a 5 percent stake in Mazda last year.

Unlike other Japanese brands, Mazda’s domestic sales pale compared to those in Europe, China, and especially North America. In 2017, North American Mazda sales were more than double that of its Japanese home market. A new American-market crossover slated for a joint Mazda-Toyota plant in Huntsville, Alabama will go a long way to helping Mazda reach its global sales goal of 2 million vehicles in 2024. Or so Mazda hopes.

The split Huntsville plant starts production in 2021, with the capacity to build 150,000 of the unnamed crossovers a year. Toyota Corollas will roll out of the other half.

Before any of that happens, however, there’s a riskier debut coming down the pipe. The Skyactiv-X engine, a (mainly) sparkless gasoline compression ignition engine, arrives sometime next year in the next-generation Mazda 3. Mazda expects significant fuel economy gains from the new mill. Should the engine prove reliable and economical, Mazda will have shown that its devotion to the internal combustion engine wasn’t foolhardy.

It could be enough to cause more than a few greenies think twice about switching to a slow-charging, limited range electric vehicle. Again, Mazda hopes.

With Marumoto heading to the big office, his current job as VP and Americas boss goes to Kiyoshi Fujiwara, the company’s senior managing executive officer and R&D boss. Fujiwara will continue overseeing the R&D file.

[Image: Mazda]

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  • Gtem Gtem on May 14, 2018

    How about a pickup truck from Mazda? Tacoma rebadge maybe?

  • SuperCarEnthusiast SuperCarEnthusiast on May 14, 2018

    Mazda is all image and no performance! Mazda will offer performance only if they are force to by competitors like Honda and Toyota! Otherwise, they advertise performance but keep the same underpowered powertrains! LOL! They think buyers are suckers and they are trying to go to the next upscale level with the same engine performance with weak acceleration other then the 2.5L turbo!

  • MaintenanceCosts The sweet spot of this generation isn't made anymore: the SRT 392. The Scat Pack is more or less filling the same space but it lacks a lot of the goodies, including SRT suspension, brakes, and seats. The Hellcat is too much and isn't available with a manual anymore.
  • Arthur Dailey I am normally a fan of Exner's designs but by this time the front end on the Stutz like most of the rest of the vehicle is a laughable monstrosity of gauche. The interior finishes suit the rest of the vehicle. Corey please put this series out of its misery. This is one vehicle manufacturer best left on the scrap heap of history.
  • Art Vandelay I always thought what my Challenger really needed was a convertible top to make it heavier and make visability worse.
  • Dlc65688410 Please stop, we can't take anymore of this. Think about doing something on the Spanish Pegaso.
  • MaintenanceCosts A few bits of context largely missing from this article:(1) For complicated historical reasons, the feds already end up paying much of the cost of buying new transit buses of all types. It is easier legally and politically to put capital funds than operating funds into the federal budget, so the model that has developed in most US agencies is that operational costs are raised from a combination of local taxes and fares while the feds pick up much of the agencies' capital needs. So this is not really new spending but a new direction for spending that's been going on for a long time.(2) Current electric buses are range-challenged. Depending on type of service they can realistically do 100-150 miles on a charge. That's just fine for commuter service where the buses typically do one or two trips in the morning, park through the midday, and do one or two trips in the evening. It doesn't work well for all-day service. Instead of having one bus that can stay out from early in the morning until late at night (with a driver change or two) you need to bring the bus back to the garage once or twice during the day. That means you need quite a few more buses and also increases operating costs. Many agencies are saying for political reasons that they are going to go electric in this replacement cycle but the more realistic outcome is that half the buses can go electric while the other half need one more replacement cycle for battery density to improve. Once the buses can go 300 miles in all weather they will be fine for the vast majority of service.(3) With all that said, the transition to electric will be very good. Moving from straight diesel to hybrid already cut down substantially on emissions, but even reduced diesel emissions cause real public health damage in city settings. Transitioning both these buses and much of the urban truck fleet to electric will have measurable and meaningful impacts on public health.