TOKYO -- Mazda is studying ways to make its Flat Rock, Mich., assembly plant profitable, including building a different model there.
If the company can't find a way to turn a profit, pulling out may be an option.
Mazda makes the Mazda6 sedan at Flat Rock, which is jointly operated with Ford Motor Co. Ford builds the Mustang at the plant.
The company planned to produce 100,000 Mazda6 units annually when the redesigned sedan was launched at Flat Rock in mid-2008. Then the financial crisis hit. Last year the plant built only 45,168 units of the Mazda6 and 77,586 Mustangs.
Asked if Mazda was considering pulling out, CEO Takashi Yamanouchi told reporters last week "nothing has been decided yet."
The factory is a big reason Mazda's U.S. operations are running at a loss. Mazda booked a loss of ¥8.5 billion, or about $102.6 million, for the plant in the fiscal year ended March 31, Yamanouchi said.
The charge worsened Mazda's operating loss in North America, its only region in the red.
"We thought it would be difficult to get back to the planned output, so that's why we decided to write it off," Yamanouchi said last week at the company's earnings announcement.
Mazda's regional operating loss for North America expanded to ¥31.7 billion, or about $382.6 million, in the fiscal year, from ¥19.3 billion, or about $232.9 million, the year before.
Akira Koga, who will be the new executive vice president of Mazda Motor of America, said he could not comment on whether quitting the joint venture was on the table.