Among Mazda's five regions, only North America has posted a vehicle sales increase in the first three quarters of the fiscal year. U.S. sales are up 48 percent this calendar year through February.
According to the memo, the effort will be carried out in three stages:
- A "voluntary" package that will include separation pay, a lump-sum payment based on years of service and help in finding a new job. Employees must apply by April 16. Mazda will decide by April 27 whether employees who apply are eligible to receive the package.
- A "redeployment process" that will restructure the organization to reflect a smaller work force. Employees will be put into the new structure starting May 16.
- "Involuntary" separations. If Mazda doesn't get enough volunteers to reach its cost-cutting goals, some workers will be dismissed. Those employees won't get the "enhanced benefits" that the volunteers will get. Mazda will begin notifying workers who are losing their jobs on May 29.
On March 5, Mazda said it will raise about $1.9 billion by selling new stock.
Proceeds will help fund construction of overseas assembly plants, including a factory in Mexico scheduled to open next year. Mazda wants to build half of its vehicles outside of Japan by the fiscal year ending March 31, 2016, to reduce its exposure to currency fluctuations. That compares with 30 percent today.
Mazda is also actively seeking partners. This week, Chrysler-Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne said Mazda or Suzuki would be good fits.
"Those two companies would be complementary to Fiat's activities," Marchionne said at the Geneva auto show. "We talk continuously with Suzuki; we talk with Mazda; we talk with everyone."
Though Mazda CEO Takashi Yamanouchi has said the company is "aggressively" pursuing a partnership, a capital alliance is unlikely. Ford Motor Co., which once held a controlling stake in Mazda, still owns about 3 percent.
Any potential tie-up would likely involve Mazda sharing at least some of its new Skyactiv vehicle technology portfolio with another automaker. Skyactiv is the umbrella term for Mazda's suite of new, lightweight vehicle bodies and chassis systems, and high-efficiency powertrains, including gasoline and diesel engines.
Mazda has billed the technology as a "game changer" that will enable it to cut vehicle development and production costs while boosting fuel efficiency and reducing emissions.
The Mazda CX-5 compact crossover, which went on sale last month in the United States, is the first Mazda vehicle to use all of the Skyactiv technologies.
The CX-5 is the centerpiece of Mazda's push to boost U.S. sales by 22 percent this year to more than 300,000 vehicles, a level the automaker hasn't seen since 1994.
Mazda hopes to sell 50,000 CX-5s in 2012 and continue the momentum of Mazda3 sales, which were up by 56 percent through February.
jThe Mazda3 received an optional, 2.0-liter Skyactiv gasoline engine and new Skyactiv automatic and manual transmissions in its mid-cycle freshening for the 2012 model year. The Mazda3 sedan with Skyactiv engine has a 40 mpg highway fuel- economy rating from the EPA.
Mazda had already approved a 25 percent boost in advertising spending for the North American market to support the company's aggressive sales target. Spokesman Barnes said that the company's advertising and marketing plans are still in place and have not been affected by any cost-cutting efforts.