Mazda ends production at sole U.S. plant
Photo credit: Bloomberg
DETROIT -- Mazda is ending production at its Flat Rock, Mich. assembly plant today after 2½ decades.
The plant, AutoAlliance International, has been a joint operation between Ford and Mazda since 1992 and will continue as such for now, Ford said.
The Ford Mustang and Mazda6 sedan, the only Mazda made in North America, were built there. Production of the next-generation Mazda6 will occur in Japan.
As Mazda ends production at its only U.S. plant, Ford plans to build the redesigned Ford Fusion sedan, which now is produced only in Mexico for North America, at the Flat Rock plant.
Ford agreed to shift some if its Fusion production to Flat Rock during negotiations with the United Auto Workers.
Ford once owned as much as 33.4 percent of Mazda, but sold off much of its investment in 2008. It now retains a 3 percent stake in Mazda, a company spokesman said today.
“We continue to study various possibilities for the future of AAI, but we don't have anything to announce at this time," Ford said in a statement. “In the meantime, the AAI joint venture will continue after Mazda6 production ends and there will be no change to the investment ratio between Ford and Mazda in AAI.”
Ford already announced that it’s investing $550 million and creating another 1,200 jobs at the plant, which currently employs 1,700.
North America was the only region with an operating loss for the Japanese automaker.
Mazda’s operating loss in North America jumped to ¥10.72 billion, or $134.8 million, in the April-June quarter, from a loss of $88.6 million a year earlier, when global production was cut by parts shortages after the 2011 earthquake in Japan, Automotive News reported earlier this month.
The plant started as the Michigan Casting Center in 1972, but was closed in 1981.
Mazda then bought the plant in 1987 and turned it into an assembly plant for the Mazda mx-06 and Ford Probe coupe.
Mazda fell on hard times in the early 1990s, so Ford started buying more shares in the company to help them out.
Ford acquired a 50 percent stake in the Flat Rock site in 1992 and it was renamed AutoAlliance International.
The plant made the Mazda 626 sedan and Mercury Cougar before switching over to the Mazda6 in 2002 and the Mustang in 2004.
In 2014, Mazda will begin producing the Mazda2 and Mazda3 subcompact and compact cars in Salamanca, Mexico, when its new $500 million plant opens.
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