Mazda Doesn’t Want to Run Low on Crossovers, Plans Accordingly

2017 Mazda CX-5 Front Quarter

Like most automakers, utility vehicles make up the bulk of Mazda’s sales, and the ratio is only swinging further in light trucks’ favor. While the new 3 hatch and sedan may be the freshest products on the automaker’s plate, freshly minted CEO Akira Marumoto knows what butters Mazda’s bread.

To keep the adorably midsized automaker in good standing with customers and accountants, the company is taking great pains to ensure the flow of crossovers never stems. Anywhere Mazda builds cars, Marumoto also wants crossover capacity.

Speaking to Automotive News, the CEO, who took the helm in June, said the automaker will revamp its production base, allowing it to build crossovers at any factory, if needed. The effort starts next year at Mazda’s Salamanca, Mexico plant, home to the current- and next-generation 3. One retooled, Mazda can call up crossovers from the car-only plant.

“What we are discussing internally is the production facility or equipment needed to change the mix in an extreme way, from 0 percent to 100 percent in a production line,” Marumoto said, adding that the actual mix would likely be around 40 percent.

Should sedan and hatch sales take a dive, the automaker’s assembly lines wouldn’t throttle back — they’d just add in a more popular product. The same strategy will be applied to plants in Japan and China.

“We’ll be ready to produce passenger cars and crossovers at every plant,” said Marumoto. “Flexibility is very important.” The CEO added that an issue exists with the company’s body shops, as operations are dedicated along model lines.  Within five or six years, Marumoto sees that bottleneck disappearing.

Over the first 11 months of 2018, crossover sales rose 18.1 percent at Mazda, echoing a trend seen throughout the industry. Meanwhile, car sales fell 13.8 percent. Year to date, crossovers accounted for 64.9 percent of Mazda’s U.S. sales volume, compared to the 57.4 percent seen at the end of November 2017.

[Image:  © 2018 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

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