The 2013 Mazda 6 is going on something of an extended Japanese vacation: production of the midsize sedan is finally winding down at the Flat Rock, Michigan plant, in favor of production in Hiroshima, Japan.
We previously reported that Mazda was pulling out of AutoAlliance International, the production plant in Flat Rock, Michigan co-owned by Ford and Mazda, while retaining its 50-percent stake in the plant. Today the Detroit News reports that the production of the mid-size 6 is finally winding down.
While Mazda couldn’t confirm the exact timing of the pull-out, the timing reported by the Newsdoes seem about right. Mazda has already announced that the next-generation 6 sedan will be made at facilities in Hiroshima, Japan, and we’ve already found that the all-new 2014 Mazda 6–based heavily on the knockout Takeri concept–will bow at the Paris Motor Show this September.
To the naked eye, it might seem like this move is the precursor to Mazda–which has lost money for the last four years–to sell its 50-percent stake in AAI to Ford, which recently celebrated being returned to investment grade and continues to make money. But Mazda says that its initial plans are to keep the 50-percent stake in AAI, and evaluate which of its products could be produced there in the future. Considering that some of Mazda’s profitability is being reduced by a strong yen and a Japan-heavy production plan, leveraging American production capacity (and a Mexican plant that was announced last year) would reduce costs in one of its key markets.
In all, Mazda and AutoAlliance might not be completely separated, but the end of domestic 6 production marks the (at least temporary) end to a 25-year run in Flat Rock. Mazda bought the plant–then a shuttered Ford engine casting plant–in 1987 and eventually began making the 626 sedan, and MX-6 and Ford Probe coupes. The plant also made the short-lived Mercury Cougar from the early 2000s, and has built the fabled Ford Mustang since 2005.
Considering that America’s best-selling mid-size sedans– Altima, Camry, Malibu, Accord, 200/Avenger, Optima/Sonata, Passat–are made stateside, the 6 will be one of the few models within this segment to be built abroad.
Source: Detroit News