TOKYO -- Mazda Motor Corp., which exports 80 percent of its Japan-made vehicles, is racing to overhaul its money-losing North American manufacturing operation to offset the profit-eating effects of a strong yen. But its Michigan assembly plant isn't part of the revival plan.
Instead, CEO Takashi Yamanouchi wants to start exporting Mazda2 and Mazda3 small cars to the United States from a factory planned for Mexico as early as 2014.
Those shipments should displace cars imported from Japan, thus relieving Mazda of exchange rate losses and giving it lower costs and cheaper labor than back home.
"If the yen continues its appreciation, then we can ship products from Mexico" to the United States, Yamanouchi told Automotive News on Nov. 7. "The plant is to open in 2013, so by 2014 -- if all goes successfully -- it will contribute to some volume. We are still studying how to do that.
"With the yen at historic highs, we have to do something," he said, speaking through an interpreter.