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Auto blogFri, 10 May 2013 09:33:00 EST
There's some executive rearranging going on in the top suite at Mazda Motor Corporation in Japan, with current CEO Takashi Yamanouchi telling reporters there "I'd like to hand over the work to younger people" now that the company has returned to profitability. Yamanouchi became CEO on November 19, 2008 of an independent Mazda that had to fight for its future in the immediate aftermath of the global financial crisis. What followed was four years of losses before finally getting back to black last year.
Masamichi Kogai (pictured) will be appointed the new president and CEO on June 25, pending approval at the company's annual general shareholders' meeting. Kogai assisted Seita Kanai with the production-efficiency initiative that Mazda called Mono Tsukuri Innovation, which worked to give export-dependent Mazda the best chance at profitability in spite of a rising yen. Kogai, lately in charge of production and purchasing, has been with the company since 1977 and worked in areas from R&D to logistics.
Kanai, who headed the Mono Tsukuri effort and was among the leadership on Skyactiv, will be promoted from executive vice president to vice chairman. Akira Marumoto will become executive VP of Mazda and assistant to new president Kogai. Yamanouchi will remain Chairman of the Board. There's a short press release below to make it official.
The Mazda MX-5 Miata was named to Car and Driver magazine's Ten Best list for the eighth year in a row and for the fourteenth time overall. The CX-5 tops or comes in as runner-up on every AOL Autos staff poll we take on compact crossovers. The Mazda3 is a perennial favorite among auto critics. That's three clear, unquestioned winners in the Mazda showroom. So, why does Mazda seem to struggle sometimes for recognition and clarity in the marketplace?
For that, I chatted with Mazda North American Operations President, Jim O'Sullivan, who has run the outfit since 2003. O'Sullivan, a former Ford sales and marketing executive who came to Mazda from Dearborn, MI when Ford owned a controlling stake in Mazda, is one of the quieter, but very menchy, leaders in the industry whose longevity in the job speaks to the stability of Mazda.
The 2011 earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan took quite the toll on the automotive industry in that nation. Not content to lean on that tragedy as excuse for slagging sales, the Japanese automakers are planning on a major production expansion in North America. The aim is to reclaim the market share lost from the Tsunami-based dip, and overcome a dollar/yen exchange rate that makes exporting to America unprofitable.
Following the Tsunami, Japanese automakers ramped up production in their North American facilities to compensate, but according to Automotive News, Nissan, Honda and others have all reported plans for still-further increased production in the year ahead. As part of this ramp-up, Mazda will open a facility in Salamnca, Mexico before March of 2014. Part of that increase in output is 50,000 units of a Toyota-badged compact car, which Mazda will produce.
Other Mexican production facilities opening include a Honda plant, which will open in Spring 2014 in Celaya, and a Nissan plant, set to open later this year in Aguascalientes. Nissan also said that it will need another plant in North America within the next five years. According to Nissan Boss Carlos Ghosn, the company aims to raise its stake in the US market from 8 percent to 10, and adding production will help achieve that goal. Even Mitsubishi is aiming to boost production at its Normal, Illinois plant. Production of the Outlander Sport is currently at 50,000, which Mitsubishi wants to raise to 70,000.