WASHINGTON - The Association of International Automobile Manufacturers is losing two of its members because of industry consolidation.
Mercedes-Benz of North America Inc. and Mazda North American Operations disclosed at an association board meeting last week that they are leaving, sources told Automotive News.
The two will be represented on public policy issues by the fledgling Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. It replaces the former Big 3's American Automobile Manufacturers Association, but includes U.S. operations of some overseas companies as well as U.S. makers.
Mazda's parent, Ford Motor Co., was instrumental in forming the alliance, and Mazda is an associate member. DaimlerChrysler Corp., the U.S. arm of DaimlerChrysler AG and sister company of Mercedes-Benz, likewise was an alliance founder.
Mercedes-Benz spokesman Steven Rossi said his company liked AIAM, but added: 'We are going to have our interests served through the DaimlerChrysler relationship.' He called the change another 'synergy' of the merger.
Barbara Nocera, Mazda's director of government and industry affairs, said her company's decision was budgetary. Its annual dues in the new alliance are $250,000. It was paying almost $400,000 to be in AIAM.
Although Ford officials 'encouraged' Mazda to leave AIAM, the final decision was Mazda's, she said.
Morry Markowitz, vice president of AIAM, said the departures are not an omen. 'Our members continue to support us as a full-service organization. They believe they get terrific value out of the services we provide.'
Actually, AIAM's board is dropping from 18 to 14 members. In addition to the Mazda and Mercedes-Benz departures, Land Rover North America Inc. is going to be represented by BMW of North America Inc. and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Inc. by Volkswagen of America Inc., Markowitz said.