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Mazda opens new plant in Salamanca, Mexico

Fri, 28 Feb 2014

Mazda Motor Corp. chairman Takashi Yamanouchi opened the company's new small-car assembly plant in Mexico today, calling it the company's "most important global strategic base."

The factory, which will produce up to 230,000 vehicles each year, is a cornerstone of the structural reform plan "upon which the very future of company hinges," Yamanouchi said in remarks prepared for the opening ceremony.

"Mazda's Structural Reform Plan, upon which the very future of the company hinges, positions this plant as our most important global strategic base," Yamanouchi said of the factory, which is about three hours northwest of Mexico City in Guanajuato State.

The Mexico plant is the carmaker's only North American assembly site. It also marks the first time Mazda has gone solo, without an automotive partner, for an overseas factory since it built a plant in Flat Rock, Mich., almost three decades ago. Ford later joined Mazda as a partner at Flat Rock, but Mazda ceased production there in 2012.

The plant began making Mazda3s on Jan. 6 with 3,000 employees. Annual capacity is initially targeted at 140,000 units, and it will hit 230,000 units in the fiscal year, ending March 31, 2016.

Yamanouchi said that after the plant reaches full production, about 30 percent of the Mazda vehicles sold in the United States will be sourced from North America, compared with virtually none today.

The plant is expected to employ 4,600 people at full capacity and add production of the Mazda2 hatchback and a Mazda2 derivative for Toyota Motor Corp. Mazda plans to allocate 50,000 units for Toyota.

Mazda will begin operations at an engine machining plant on the site in October.

"Mazda's Mexico plant 'most important' base, chairman says" appeared in Automotive News on 2/27/14.

By Hans Greimel- Automotive News