Mazda, Ford in talks to end US tie-up: reports

Posted at 06/03/11 7:12 PM

TOKYO - Japan's Mazda Motor is in talks with US giant Ford to pull out of their money-losing 50-50 joint venture for car production in the United States in 2013, reports said Friday.

Mazda is planning to sell its stake in the AutoAlliance International (AAI) venture in Flat Rock, Michigan, to Ford, the Nikkei business daily's evening edition and the Kyodo news agency reported.

Mazda refused to comment on the reports, which it said were "not based on information released by Mazda".

"Mazda and Ford are jointly studying various possibilities for AAI, and we have nothing to announce at this time. We do not comment on speculation," the company said in a press release.

Mazda, ranked fifth among Japanese carmakers in terms of volume, plans to cover its sales in the US market after 2013 with imports from Japan and shipments from a new plant to be built in Mexico, the Nikkei said.

The Mazda-Ford joint venture has continued losing money, with its capacity utilisation rate sagging since the September 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers at the beginning of the global economic downturn, Kyodo said.

While the annual production capacity of the joint venture plant is 240,000 units, Mazda, whose capacity share stands at 120,000, produced only 45,000 units in the year to March 2011, Kyodo said.

Mazda, which makes only the Atenza sedan, known as the Mazda 6 in the United States, at the Michigan joint venture, plans to shift Atenza production to its Hofu plant in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Kyodo added.