Mazda Motor Corp. has decided to build cars in Europe and will pick a production site this month. The Japanese carmaker, which is controlled by Ford Motor Co., wants a production base there to increase sales and cut exposure to currency variations.
'The yen is killing us,' says Jan Brentebraten, president of Mazda Europe. 'Small cars are hit especially hard. We cannot charge the prices we need to charge.
'The production of Mazdas in Europe cannot be postponed any longer. By November we will have a decision on where to establish production.'
Brentebraten mentioned Cologne and Spain as possible locations, adding that he preferred to be in a nation using the euro currency. He says it would take 'well over a year' to start production after a decision.
Mazda's most practical course may be to share a plant with its big brother, Ford, in the view of one observer. Nigel Griffiths, production analyst for Standard & Poor's DRI in London, says, 'The easiest solution for Mazda is not to have its own assembly facility but to build a vehicle at a Ford plant on a shared platform - say, the 323 on a Focus platform.'