TOKYO -- Two U.S.-built Japan-brand vehicles may soon get the ax.
The Subaru Tribeca SUV and Mazda6 mid-sized sedan will be discontinued as their manufacturers seek to improve the efficiency of U.S. assembly plants, a Japan newspaper says.
Subaru has decided to stop r&d of a next-generation Tribeca and end production after the current version, the Nikkan Kogyo business daily reported today.
Meanwhile, Mazda plans to stop making the Mazda6 at the Flat Rock, Mich., plant it operates as a joint venture with Ford Motor Co. Doing so may lead to Mazda pulling out all together, the newspaper said.
A Subaru spokesman declined to comment on the report.
Mazda spokesman Jeremy Barnes denied the Mazda6 report, saying: "The Mazda6 will continue to exist -- no ifs, ands or buts about it.
He declined to comment, however, on production plans for the Flat Rock plant.
Ford spokesmen had no comment. Ford has previously declined comment on Mazda's plans.
Both Subaru and Mazda face some painful decisions on these troubled models.
The aging Tribeca, which saw flat sales of only 910 units in the year through April, is sucking up valuable production space at Subaru's Indiana plant, where the company is aching for more capacity to build the popular Outback and Legacy.
The Nikkan Kogyo didn't say when the Tribeca would be dropped. But the model, still on its first generation, was introduced in 2005.
Meanwhile, the Mazda6 is a big reason Mazda can't turn a regional operating profit in North America -- one of its most important markets.
The company planned to produce 100,000 Mazda6 units annually at the Flat Rock, Mich., plant, when the redesigned sedan was launched there in mid-2008. Then the financial crisis hit.
Last year the plant built only 45,168 units.
Mazda is cagey about what options it is mulling. If it quits producing the Mazda6, it could bring in another vehicle -- or Mazda could quit the plant completely. Speculation abounds in Japan that Mazda is eyeing a new, lower cost North American production base in Mexico.