Mazda CEO Takashi Yamanouchi has shown me details of his company’s revival plan on more than one occasion, laying out in a series of slides the road to Mazda’s future as a profitable and well-respected car company with a loyal and enthusiastic customer base.
By 2016, Mazda aims to sell 1.7 million vehicles annually around the world. That is a jump from the 1.2 million to 1.25 million predicted for the current fiscal year.
“Mazda is currently undergoing a spectacular structural transformation encompassing R&D, production, sourcing, sales and all other business areas, for the first time in its 90-year history,” Yamanouchi recently told trade journal Automotive News. “It’s a must-win situation. That’s how important it is.”
To reach the company’s goals, Mazda is launching its full suite of SkyActiv technologies designed to improve performance and reduce fuel consumption and emissions while also cutting costs. Mazda is also aiming to become less reliant on its Japanese production base in Hiroshima, though with Mazda providing for about a third of the local prefecture’s total GDP, moving production overseas is fraught with political and social implications. Nonetheless, Mazda is committed to increasing production overseas, including opening a new plant in Mexico.
Most important of all to Mazda, though, is the company’s independence. Mazda would like to enter into partnerships with other car companies and is currently jointly developing the next MX-5 Miata roadster with Fiat. Automotive News reports that the roadster will be based on the current Mazda MX-5 Miata and will be sold starting in 2015 as the Miata’s successor. Fiat’s Alfa Romeo brand will sell a version with distinct styling, the industry publication reports.
Yamanouchi has said Mazda is not interested in an equity tie-up with another auto maker, but a deeper collaboration with Fiat might make sense. Fiat, after all, has successfully joined with Chrysler. A further partnership between Mazda, Chrysler and Fiat would make for a strategic alliance on a global scale – Fiat with its presence in Europe and South America, Chrysler in North America and Mazda in Asia.
On paper, such an alliance makes sense. The speculation continues.