Mazda Shakes Up Its North American Team Ahead of Crossover Push

Image: Mazda

Masahiro Moro, president and CEO of Mazda’s crucial North American business, clearly has the full confidence of company boss Akira Marumoto. In an executive shuffle announced Wednesday, Moro (seen above, on the left) retains his chief executive title and adds chairman of Mazda North American Operations to his CV, bringing Canada and Mexico under his purview.

At the same time, Jeff Guyton, CEO of Mazda Motor Europe for the past decade, was named president of Mazda North American Operations. The changes, effective April 1st, come as Mazda prepares to boost its North American volume with the addition of two strategically positioned crossovers.

The first (and smaller) of the two we told you about not too long ago. It’s the CX-30, a supposedly right-sized model slotted between the cramped, subcompact CX-3 and wildly popular CX-5 compact. The CX-30 name exists because Mazda’s CX-4 moniker is reserved for a Chinese-market model.

While the CX-30 is bound for North American consumers, Mazda hasn’t stated a launch date just yet.

Image: Mazda

With Moro moving up in the world and Guyton taking a plane trip, Mazda’s Canadian arm also sees new leadership. David Klan, a 27-year company veteran, secedes Masaharu “Massey” Kondo in the CEO role, with his predecessor heading to Japan to serve as general manager of sales and marketing at company HQ. Klan formerly held the title of senior director of national sales, marketing and regional operations. He’ll report to Moro.

“As Mazda moves forward with its next generation product, the company has made global leadership changes to further its path toward premium,” said Akira Marumoto, Mazda president and CEO of Mazda Motor Corporation, in a statement. “Mazda is a global business and both North America and Europe are vital to its continued growth. Masahiro has been a tremendous leader in the U.S., and we are pleased to expand his role.”

Path toward premium is a nice-sounding tagline, isn’t it? It’s a path the automaker has been on for some time, but the recent launch of the next-generation 3 sedan and hatch (very different models on either side of the border, by the way) ramped up Mazda’s premium push. But passenger cars aren’t where Mazda expects to gain most of its new customers.

Besides the CX-30, a second model bound for a joint Mazda-Toyota assembly plant under construction in Alabama should see the light of day in 2021. This unnamed model is tailored for the American consumer, the automaker claims, and the plant’s capacity of 150,000 annual units (Mazda’s half of the operation) should ensure a steady supply if the vehicle proves a hit. Expect a midsize three-row with better styling than its Japanese rivals.

Mazda’s U.S. sales rose 3.7 percent in 2018, with the healthy return dependent on light truck volume. The company’s crossovers saw their popularity rise 15.3 percent last year; meanwhile, car sales fell 12.7 percent. So far this year, all Mazda models are in the red, with overall volume falling 13.4 percent through the end of February.

[Images: Mazda]

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