NEW YORK -- Hoping to reverse five years of slumping U.S. sales, Mazda Motor Co. on Tuesday unveiled plans to downsize its product line, phasing out some vehicles and rolling out new ones that emphasize an image of sportiness and fun.
Company President Mark Fields said Mazda hopes to double its market share in the United States and Japan by the end of the decade. "We've set out to rekindle the spirit and competitiveness of doing business," Fields said in unveiling several new cars to Wall Street analysts and journalists at a Manhattan event hall.
To do that Mazda will stop trying to be all things to all people, Fields said. Among smaller automakers with revenue of around $20 billion, Mazda was alone in trying to do it all, from producing minicars to full-size sedans to pickup trucks.
He hinted that Mazda will drop its full-size Millenia sedan, at the same time pledging that Mazda will have a sporty lineup of cars to appeal to young customers, the middle-aged and empty nesters.
An all-new midsize sedan, wagon and hatchback will replace the 626 model, and a compact sedan and five-door hatchback will eventually replace the 323 and Protege. The new models will feature narrow, sleek headlamps, wedge-shaped bodies and sporty fenders, sometimes with fog lamps.
An all-new small car for Japan, Europe and other markets, to replace the Demio, which is not sold in the United States, will be produced in Japan and at a Ford Motor Co. factory in Spain, to help reduce production costs.
In all, 11 all-new or redesigned products will come to North America over the next three years, Fields said.
Meanwhile, under its new five-year restructuring plan, Mazda will shutter a plant in Japan, transfer some production to Thailand and Spain, import more parts to lessen the effect of exchange rates, increase product development spending by 30 percent and make more use of technology from Ford, which owns a controlling 34 percent share of Mazda.
Mazda, whose U.S. subsidiary headquarters is in Irvine, Calif., has been beaten up in recent years. It lost money in the mid-1990s through 1998 before eking out a profit of around $350 million in 1999 and $250 million in 2000.
Fields said he expects a loss of some $400 million this fiscal year, which ends March 31, and a break-even 2001 before the company heads back into the black.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.