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Mazda to halt Mazda 6 output in Michigan

Mon, 06 Jun 2011 00:00:00 -0700

Mazda said Monday it will stop building the Mazda 6 at its AutoAlliance International joint venture plant with Ford Motor Co. in suburban Detroit after the sedan's current life cycle.

Mazda Motor Corp. said that production of the next Mazda 6 will be consolidated into the company's plant in Hofu, Japan, confirming reports from Japanese media citing unnamed sources.

The Mazda 6 is built at three sites: AutoAlliance International, Mazda's 50-50 joint venture with Ford, in Flat Rock, Mich., and in plants in Hofu, Japan, and in China.

In its announcement, Mazda said it is studying plans for the future of AutoAlliance, repeating similar statements made last week. Ford spokesmen have declined to comment on Mazda's plans for Flat Rock.

Ceasing production at AutoAlliance would leave the plant without a Mazda product. Ford builds the Mustang in Flat Rock.

The move is expected to happen in mid-2012. That is when the current Mazda 6 is scheduled to be replaced with an updated version, featuring Mazda's new SkyActiv powertrain technologies and design cues from Mazda's Shinari concept sedan that debuted last November at the Los Angeles auto show.

Mazda 6 sales fell 53 percent in May from May 2010, to 1,639 units. Sales through May totaled 13,604 units, down 9 percent from the same period in 2010.

Mazda booked a $102.6 million loss for AutoAlliance in its fiscal year that ended March 31, pulling its North American operations--its only region to post an operating loss last year--deeper into the red.

The announcement also comes at a time when Mazda and other Japanese automakers have seen unfavorable foreign exchange rates cut into profits of Japan-made vehicles sold overseas.

In a statement, Mazda Motor Corp. CEO Takashi Yamanouchi said consolidating production into Japan made the most sense for Mazda.

Jeremy Barnes, a spokesman for Mazda North America, said line workers at the plant, represented by UAW Local 3000, were told about the plans on Monday.

Hans Greimel contributed to this report

By Ryan Beene- Automotive News