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Old 10-17-2002, 10:23   #1 (permalink)
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New MAZDA6 Sports Sedan Launched at AAI

FLAT ROCK, Mich., Oct. 17, 2002 -- Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) today held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at AutoAlliance International, Inc. (AAI) to celebrate the first U.S. production of the all-new MAZDA6 sports sedan. On hand to welcome the brilliant yellow MAZDA6 vehicle as it rolled off the assembly line were Charlie Hughes, president and CEO of MNAO, Phil Spender, president and CEO of AAI, Takashi Yamanouchi, chairman of the board of AAI and director, senior managing executive officer of Mazda Motor Corporation of Japan, and all of the plant's nearly 2,000 workers.

Styled at Mazda's Hiroshima design studio, the MAZDA6 sports sedan is an all-new mid-sized automobile built on a unique platform. Reflecting the brand's sports car heritage, the MAZDA6 combines outstanding road-handling, class-leading performance, athletic exterior design, innovative packaging and superior value in an attractive five-passenger sports sedan. Two trim levels are offered for the 2003 model year -- MAZDA6 i and MAZDA6 s. A spirited 160-horsepower 2.3-liter I-4 engine powers the MAZDA6 i, while a lively 220-horsepower 3.0-liter V-6 drives the MAZDA6 s.

Speaking to AAI's employees at the ceremony, MNAO's Hughes said, "You are the MVPs on the launch team for this vehicle. Each of you are playing a critically important role in the successful launch of the MAZDA6 and in the future of Mazda."

AAI's Spender added, "The MAZDA6 is already proving to be popular and we at AAI are dedicated to producing top quality in our quest to become a leading automotive manufacturing business in the competitive U.S. market."

Already on sale in Europe and Japan, the vehicle is greatly exceeding the company's sales targets. Mazda expects U.S. sales to be equally stunning when the first MAZDA6s appear in Mazda dealerships in mid-November.

In preparation for the start-up of U.S. production, 200 AAI employees were trained at Mazda's Hofu, Japan plant, where the model is produced for European, Asian and other markets. The first-hand knowledge gained in Japan about the vehicle's assembly process was transferred to co-workers when they returned to AAI. Mazda Motor Corporation also supported the new-vehicle launch by dispatching more than 100 engineers from Japan at AAI for as long as a year to assure product quality meets Mazda's exacting standards.

Ford Motor Company and Mazda Motor Corporation entered into a joint venture to create AutoAlliance International, Inc. in 1992. Past vehicle models produced at the facility include the Ford Probe, Mercury Cougar, Mazda MX-6 and Mazda 626. The assembly line design for the MAZDA6 sedan is flexible enough to accommodate the addition of the sport wagon and five-door body styles with no production shutdown.

Mazda North American Operations is responsible for the sales and marketing, customer parts and service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States. Headquartered in Irvine, Calif., MNAO has more than 700 dealerships nationwide.
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