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Old 03-25-2003, 07:57   #1 (permalink)
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Mazda unit picks Ford exec as chief

Tuesday, March 25, 2003
By Bloomberg News

IRVINE, Calif. -- Mazda Motor Corp., a Ford Motor Co. affiliate, named Ford executive James O'Sullivan president and CEO of the Japanese automaker's North American unit.

O'Sullivan's appointment takes effect April 1, spokesman Jeremy Barnes said. O'Sullivan, 50, replaces Charles Hughes, who resigned Feb. 27.

O'Sullivan joined Ford in 1976 and most recently was franchise and business development manager of the No. 2 automaker's Lincoln Mercury division. O'Sullivan will be based at Mazda's Irvine, Calif. office.

The executive change comes as Ford is looking to increase U.S. sales at Mazda.

"Every piece of the puzzle is important," at Ford, said CNW Marketing/Research Inc. President Art Spinella, whose Bandon, Ore.-based company surveys auto buyers each month. "It's critical they make Mazda whole and strong."

Mazda's U.S. sales fell 4.2 percent in 2002 to 258,213 units, or just 1.5 percent of the 16.8 million unit U.S. market.

At the same time, larger Asian rivals, including Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Hyundai Motor Co., expanded sales and market share in the United States.

Mazda last year was the tenth best-selling U.S. brand.

Dearborn-based Ford, owns one-third of Mazda. The two companies build cars together at AutoAlliance International in Flat Rock, which churns out the new Mazda6 sedan and where Ford will start building Mustangs next year.
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