By on March 13, 2019

Image: Mazda

Masahiro Moro, president and CEO of Mazda’s crucial North American business, clearly has the full confidence of company boss Akira Marumoto. In an executive shuffle announced Wednesday, Moro (seen above, on the left) retains his chief executive title and adds chairman of Mazda North American Operations to his CV, bringing Canada and Mexico under his purview.

At the same time, Jeff Guyton, CEO of Mazda Motor Europe for the past decade, was named president of Mazda North American Operations. The changes, effective April 1st, come as Mazda prepares to boost its North American volume with the addition of two strategically positioned crossovers.

The first (and smaller) of the two we told you about not too long ago. It’s the CX-30, a supposedly right-sized model slotted between the cramped, subcompact CX-3 and wildly popular CX-5 compact. The CX-30 name exists because Mazda’s CX-4 moniker is reserved for a Chinese-market model.

While the CX-30 is bound for North American consumers, Mazda hasn’t stated a launch date just yet.

Image: Mazda

With Moro moving up in the world and Guyton taking a plane trip, Mazda’s Canadian arm also sees new leadership. David Klan, a 27-year company veteran, secedes Masaharu “Massey” Kondo in the CEO role, with his predecessor heading to Japan to serve as general manager of sales and marketing at company HQ. Klan formerly held the title of senior director of national sales, marketing and regional operations. He’ll report to Moro.

“As Mazda moves forward with its next generation product, the company has made global leadership changes to further its path toward premium,” said Akira Marumoto, Mazda president and CEO of Mazda Motor Corporation, in a statement. “Mazda is a global business and both North America and Europe are vital to its continued growth. Masahiro has been a tremendous leader in the U.S., and we are pleased to expand his role.”

Path toward premium is a nice-sounding tagline, isn’t it? It’s a path the automaker has been on for some time, but the recent launch of the next-generation 3 sedan and hatch (very different models on either side of the border, by the way) ramped up Mazda’s premium push. But passenger cars aren’t where Mazda expects to gain most of its new customers.

Besides the CX-30, a second model bound for a joint Mazda-Toyota assembly plant under construction in Alabama should see the light of day in 2021. This unnamed model is tailored for the American consumer, the automaker claims, and the plant’s capacity of 150,000 annual units (Mazda’s half of the operation) should ensure a steady supply if the vehicle proves a hit. Expect a midsize three-row with better styling than its Japanese rivals.

Mazda’s U.S. sales rose 3.7 percent in 2018, with the healthy return dependent on light truck volume. The company’s crossovers saw their popularity rise 15.3 percent last year; meanwhile, car sales fell 12.7 percent. So far this year, all Mazda models are in the red, with overall volume falling 13.4 percent through the end of February.

[Images: Mazda]

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12 Comments on “Mazda Shakes Up Its North American Team Ahead of Crossover Push...”


  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Moro-san,

    Thank you for not sitting on the vehicle. Thank you for not placing your hand on the freshly-painted Class A surface.

    Now if you would like me to see your newly-introduced product, perhaps you could step out of the way?

    Many auto executives look best from the waist up. Many new vehicles get more styling attention up front and less as we move toward the rear of the vehicle. May I suggest that you stand behind the hood, and rotate the vehicle somewhat? Then everyone can see your face, and the face of the car.

    (Life is tough for those of us who own spray guns *and* SLR’s…)

  • avatar
    syncro87

    Mazda:

    What a lot of Americans want is a Subaru Crosstrek with 30 more horsepower. If you offer something that fits that mold, they will come.

  • avatar
    EGSE

    Yakuza definitely needs a tailor upgrade.

    Hoist those cuffs and show your tats!

  • avatar
    Rocket

    The CX7, or whatever they decide to call their new mid-sizer, should not have three rows. Two comfortable rows and lots of space for luggage, shopping bags, etc is where they’ll find the most success.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      I was expecting the new CX7 to be a larger two row vehicle ala the Edge and Grand Cherokee. The CX9 needs to also grow a little (interior measurements at least) to allow room.
      The CX7 would be a larger, more luxurious CX5.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    As I start thinking of which vehicle I will get when my lease it up, I’m very interested in the CX-30. Release it with AWD, manual and the 2.5 and I’ll be happy. Otherwise, I’m still waiting on a definitive answer about the Mazda3 (re: having AWD and a manual). The rep at the auto show was non-committal, presumably because nothing has been announced.

    I really hope this happens. Alas, I’m still far enough out that I can search around.

    • 0 avatar
      Kendahl

      I, too, am interested in the 2019 Mazda3 5-door. Our Ford Focus is six and a half years old. It’s been a good car but, if Mazda upgrades the interior, a Mazda3 would be a step up. Make mine with AWD and the 250 hp turbo 2.5 liter. Let the owner disable the intrusive nannies like adaptive cruise control, lane keeping and automatic braking. I’d even be willing to forego a manual transmission.

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      The Mazda3 2019 price list has the hatch Premium 6-speed as FWD, every other body/trim/drive combo is an automatic. I suppose it could come later, the SkyActive engine is still in the wings.

      Then again, so is the CX-5 diesel.

      Current US CX lineup is all automatics, the old CX-5 manual was 2.0L/ FWD only.

  • avatar
    SuperCarEnthusiast

    I heard rumors of a redesigned Mazda 6 with AWD along with a re-introduction of the CX-7 coming in 2020!


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