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Old 10-22-2003, 14:00   #1 (permalink)
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Japan:Ford to Produce 10 Car Models with Mazda Platform

Motor Trend
Kyodo News

Ford Motor Co. plans to produce around 10 new car models based on the platform of the Atenza, a passenger car developed by its Japanese affiliate, Mazda Motor Corp., the president of the U.S. auto giant said Tuesday.

Nick Scheele said Ford will launch the new cars in the United States and other countries starting, possibly as early as next year.

He unveiled the plan during a news conference in Tokyo. He is in Japan to attend the Tokyo Motor Show opening later this week at Makuhari Messe in Chiba.

Scheele said Ford has decided to employ the Atenza's platform in its new cars because the vehicle, sold as the Mazda6 in markets other than Japan, is enjoying huge popularity in Japan and Europe.

Mazda came under the umbrella of Ford in 1996 when the U.S. automaker acquired a 33.4% stake in the Japanese automaker.

The Ford president said the business relations between the two carmakers have deepened in the past several years.

Regarding plans by Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. to step up their pickup-truck operations in North America, Scheele said the move poses no threat to Ford. He said the company's newly released F Series pickup truck sold extremely well in North America in September.

Pickup trucks are the main source of revenue for Ford.
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Old 10-27-2003, 09:18   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Japan:Ford to Produce 10 Car Models with Mazda Platform

Additional Mazda nameplates on horizon for U.S. market

By MARK RECHTIN | Automotive News

TOKYO -- Within the next two years, Mazda Motor Corp. will develop at least five nameplates from its four new core platforms, executives said.

Some of the vehicles will be replacements for existing vehicles, while others will be new entries to the Mazda brand, said Joseph Bakaj, Mazda executive officer of design and product development. What's more, these vehicles will be developed from design freeze to Job 1 in 12 months, he said.

The launches of the Mazda2, Mazda3, Mazda6 and RX-8 over the past two years represent about two-thirds of Mazda's volume. The new products will be counted on for additional growth, said Bakaj (pronouned "buh-KYE").

Mazda can "quickly and cheaply go after niches and higher-revenue segments with the platforms it has in place," he said here last week.

Potential new segments are being examined by the advanced activities division of Mazda's product development department, he said. The advanced activities group has teams in California, Germany and Japan. "All they do is work new concepts," Bakaj said.

Although not giving details of the new vehicles, an examination of product cycles shows that the Miata, Tribute and MPV are due for renewal by fall 2005. Mazda also has done several studies of a large crossover vehicle, though Bakaj said such a vehicle must match the Mazda brand.

That still leaves several segments open for expansion. Bakaj said models such as the Mazda6 wagon do not count as contributors to the new derivatives count.

As to how well the Tribute and MPV could work from the Mazda6 platform, Bakaj said: "You can stretch the wheelbase and upgrade the suspension, but it's not such a big deal. If you look at the rear multilink suspension, there are no technical issues to taking it up a couple classes."

A tougher task is to ensure that a larger vehicle on the same architecture will be stiff enough to avoid noise, vibration and harshness, he said.

Not all the derivatives will reach all markets. The Mazda2, for example, is considered too small for the North American market, as might its derivatives.

Bakaj did confirm that Mazda will use the RX-8 platform for the next Miata. He has said Mazda wants two-seat coupe and convertible versions of the RX-8 as well.

"We've strategically invested lots of money in the RX-8, so it makes sense to reuse that investment," Bakaj said. "We'd want a different wheelbase and track, but we can reuse the architecture."

Mazda chief designer Moray Callum said the four core products have consolidated Mazda's design look. But the derivative vehicles will be used for evolving and growing the face of Mazda.

"You will recognize them as Mazdas, but because they are derivatives, we can give the cars their own signature and character," Callum said. "We're looking at types of vehicles that don't fit just into a segment, vehicles that you can't pigeonhole."

(Photo)The Mazda Ibuki concept, above, shown last week at the Tokyo Motor Show, hints strongly at the next Miata, due in 2005. The Miata will be based on the RX-8. (Photo by Jim Fets)
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