We knew this day was coming for some time: Mazda is finally ending production of vehicles in the U.S., and after today will stop building cars at the AutoAlliance International plant in Flat Rock, Michigan. The Japanese company only built three cars on American soil, the MX-6, the 626, and the 6, but the next version will instead be bolted together on home turf.
Mazda confirmed last summer that it would end production of the 6 at Flat Rock. The next version of the car will instead be built in Hofu, Japan. Mazda has teased the 2014 6 (pictured), which will debut later this month in Moscow, and also revealed the new Mazda 6 wagon when production began in Japan. It is heavily based on the alluring Takeri concept, and will incorporate Mazda's fuel-saving SkyActiv technologies.
Ford operated the Flat Rock plant from 1972 through 1981. Then in 1984, Mazda announced plans to take over and revamp the Flat Rock plant. The three-million square-foot facility opened in 1987 to build the Mazda MX-6. A year later, the factory added assembly of the Ford Probe.
In 1989, Mazda began building the 626 sedan at the Flat Rock factory. In 1992, Ford bought a 50-percent stake of the factory, which was rechristened AutoAlliance International. By 1993, AutoAlliance International had built a total of one million vehicles since Mazda opened it six years earlier. The factory later built cars like the Mercury Cougar. Starting in 2001, AAI built the Mazda 6, and from 2004 it added production of the Ford Mustang.
Now that Mazda has vacated the plant, Ford plans to add capacity for building the 2013 Fusion sedan.
Even though the Japanese company won't build cars in the U.S., it hasn't given up on North America. The automaker will start building the Mazda 2 and Mazda 3 in Mexico by April 2013.
Sources: The Detroit News, Ford, Mazda