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Associated Press - December 4, 2003
Motor Trend

Japan's Mazda Motor Corp. said Thursday it will lead the joint development of a next-generation subcompact with its parent, Ford Motor Co. of the United States.

It will be the fifth car jointly developed by Mazda and Ford, but the Hiroshima-based automaker will direct the effort for the first time, said Mazda spokesman Katsumi Yoshitake.

Yoshitake said the companies just recently launched the project. He refused to provide other details, including the development cost of the vehicle and how many cars they plan to produce.

The Nihon Keizai, Japan's leading business daily, said the compact will go on sale in 2007.

Mazda plans to make 150,000 of the cars and Ford will produce about 350,000 each year, the newspaper reported without citing sources. The companies will cut production costs by increasing their shared parts, the report said.

Ford, which holds a 33.4 percent stake in Mazda, directed the joint development of two previous subcompact models, the Demio subcompact and the Mazda 3, or the Axela, Yoshitake said.

The two automakers also worked together on the Tribute sport-utility vehicle and the Atenza sedan, sold as the Mazda 6 in the United States.

Mazda's shares closed up 1.5 percent to 277 yen (US$2.6) Thursday on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
 
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