Mazda Shakes Up Its North American Team Ahead of Crossover Push

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
mazda shakes up its north american team ahead of crossover push

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.

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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4 of 12 comments
  • Tankinbeans Tankinbeans on Mar 13, 2019

    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.

    • See 1 previous
    • Richard Chen Richard Chen on Mar 13, 2019

      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.

  • SuperCarEnthusiast SuperCarEnthusiast on Mar 13, 2019

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

  • EngineerfromBaja_1990 These cars hit rock bottom in value by the mid 2010s when the DCT related lawsuits came in droves. Too bad because other than that poor transmission and limited legroom, these are very good handling and well equipped vehicles with decent build quality and materials.We can all be very positive it was the DCT fiasco what ruined this nameplate for North America rather than the shift from sedans and HB to CUVs.The only upside is manual transmission vehicles were also affected by the low resale value, which make them an excellent buy.
  • MaintenanceCosts And this is why I just bought myself a good 2011 manual car that I plan to keep for a good long time.
  • Lou_BC The Camaro always had to contend with the Corvette. Up until the mid-engine Corvette, bother were just muscle cars occupying the same niche. The demise of the Challenger and Camaro will be great news for Ford and the Mustang. Once again they are the last domestic Muscle car standing.
  • MaintenanceCosts I love these. They are really too loud for the street--you'd have to tiptoe around subdivisions and parking lots if you don't want people to get mad--but the noise is SO beautiful.But if I got this one the first thing I'd do would take a heat gun to the white stripes. The car is plenty shouty enough without them.
  • Ajla This was discussed a little in the Camaro thread yesterday but IMO these GT350s along with the 5g Camaro Z28 are going to be the most valuable post 2000 muscle/pony cars around the time I'm going in the ground. The experience those two cars give isn't going to exist in the future while they are also just fussy enough about maintenance/repair to make themselves rare as time goes on.