HIROSHIMA, Japan — Mazda is prepping for a global crossover blitz with a sweeping production overhaul to make one of the industry's most flexible production systems even more responsive.
The goal, laid out by Akira Marumoto in his first interview since becoming Mazda Motor Corp. CEO in June, is to create a worldwide production base that allows Mazda to make crossovers at any factory, from Mexico to China to Japan, and to quickly dial up or down output to match fluctuating demand.
Marumoto said the upgrade begins early next year with the retooling of Mazda's plant in Salamanca, Mexico, to produce a next-generation Mazda3 small car.
That rework will enable the Mexico factory to add crossovers to its repertoire, giving Mazda much needed extra capacity in the segment. The Mexico plant currently builds only the Mazda2 subcompact and outgoing Mazda3.
Marumoto said Mazda also is enhancing lines in Japan and China to have greater flexibility in adjusting model mix when market demand shifts. Marumoto's plan calls for a radical range of flexibility in how much its factory lines can increase or decrease a model’s output to match changing demand.
"What we are discussing internally is the production facility or equipment needed to change the mix in an extreme way, from 0 percent to 100 percent in a production line," Marumoto told Automotive News last week at Mazda's global headquarters here. In practice, however, Marumoto said operation swings wouldn't be so dramatic. Mazda could operate in a band of 40 percent, up or down.