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)
My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.
My next Ford.....