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    Mazda Extends Recovery by Designing Half of Ford Cars

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    Mazda Extends Recovery by Designing Half of Ford Cars

    Post by sang_garuda on Fri Jul 25, 2008 10:08 am

    July 24 -- Ford Motor Co. Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally's crisis is Mazda Motor Corp. CEO Hisakazu Imaki's opportunity.

    The two men are partners in moving the second-largest U.S. automaker away from the trucks and large sport-utility vehicles consumers are shunning in the face of $4-a-gallon gasoline. Ford, which saved Mazda from near-bankruptcy 12 years ago, owns a third of the Hiroshima-based company, Japan's fifth-largest automaker.

    Ford's Fusion and Mercury Milan midsize sedans, based on the Mazda6 and rated at up to 29 highway miles per gallon, were the Dearborn, Michigan-based company's only models to gain U.S. sales last month. Half of the automaker's cars will be based on the designs of its Japanese affiliate by 2010, up from 43 percent this year, according to CSM Worldwide, a Northville, Michigan-based automotive-consulting firm.

    ``Mazda is attractive now,'' said Masayuki Kubota, a fund manager at Daiwa SB Investments Ltd. in Tokyo, who oversees the equivalent of $1.7 billion, including the automaker's shares. ``There's a flood of demand for small cars in the U.S. right now and Mazda gains from Ford's need for its development expertise.''

    The Japanese company is saving about 12 billion yen ($111.4 million) a year through joint development with Ford, according to Credit Suisse Group senior analyst Koji Endo. That amount will rise as cooperation increases, he said. Mazda plans to spend 115 billion yen on research and development in the year ending next March.

    Stock's Recovery

    The shares rose 6.5 percent to 660 yen in Tokyo trading today, the biggest gain in seven weeks. They may climb to 700 yen within 12 months, according to Endo, approaching their 16- month high of 718 yen in June 2007. Ten analysts in a Bloomberg survey recommend buying, seven say to hold, and two advise selling.

    The 18 percent gain this year makes Mazda the best- performing Japanese automaker. It also values Ford's stake at $2.9 billion. A rise to Endo's target price would add about $176 million to the value of Ford's investment.

    Mazda plans to increase its models' fuel economy by an average of 30 percent in the next seven years by making vehicles lighter and developing thriftier engines. The quest for efficiency is spurring cooperation between Mulally and Imaki.

    Ford will make a small Fiesta model based on a Mazda design in India as early as 2009, according to CSM, and the two companies will build autos at a jointly owned Thai plant next year.

    The Japanese carmaker will also supply Ford with redesigns for the Fusion sedan and Edge crossover wagon to be built in the U.S.

    `Difficult to Justify'

    Designing cars with Ford provides Mazda savings through greater economies of scale and purchasing power with suppliers, said Ashvin Chotai, a London-based independent auto analyst. The Japanese company's sales are less than a quarter of its U.S. relative's.

    ``Without Ford's volumes, Mazda would find it difficult to justify all the expenditure that has gone into the platform development,'' Chotai said.

    Developing the basic structure for the Mazda6 alone would cost as much as 30 billion yen for designers, parts outsourcing and prototypes, and take at least two years, according to Credit Suisse's Endo.

    Imaki, 65, a production engineer known as ``Mr. Manufacturing,'' is a four-decade Mazda veteran who ran the headquarters plant and became CEO in 2003. As a student at the Himeji Institute of Technology, he longed to work for the company he now runs, according to ``Why Mazda Arose,'' a book by Yoshikazu Miyamoto.

    Meetings With Mulally

    The CEO meets with Mulally, 62, an aeronautical engineer and former Boeing Co. executive, a few times a year at Ford headquarters and international auto shows, according to Mazda spokeswoman Yukari Hara. They also speak in teleconferences, using an interpreter, and engineers from both companies work at each other's design centers in Dearborn and Hiroshima.

    Mazda, after recovering from its biggest loss in company history in the year ended March 2001, has posted record net income in each of the last four years. Ford reported a record quarterly loss of $8.7 billion today, including $8 billion in pretax writedowns for plant closings and the declining value of truck leases at Ford Motor Credit Co.

    New Best-Sellers

    U.S. consumers' shift to fuel-efficient autos has deposed Ford's F-Series pickup trucks as the country's best-selling vehicle. Small-car sales in the U.S. rose 20 percent in June, according to Autodata Corp. in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey. Mazda's are up 0.3 percent this year on top of a 10 percent gain in 2007.

    ``Nobody anticipated we'd see changes like this so fast,'' Mulally said on June 3. ``We are going to absolutely be relentless on improving the fuel efficiency year after year.''

    Changing preferences prompted General Motors Corp. to close four truck factories and start reviewing its Hummer SUV unit for a possible sale. Toyota Motor Corp. will shut two truck plants temporarily and start making the Prius hybrid in Mississippi.

    ``The trend the world over is to small cars,'' said Yuuki Sakurai, general manager of financial and investment planning at Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance Co. in Tokyo, which manages the equivalent of $54 billion. ``That's Mazda's strength and their link to Ford is very convenient as they wouldn't be able to reach that broad global market on their own.''

    `World Car' Award

    The redesigned Mazda2 and Demio compacts, introduced by the Japanese company last July, were selected by automotive journalists as the World Car of the Year in March. The models start at a list price of 1.2 million yen and get 23 kilometers per liter (52 mpg) of gasoline.

    Compact cars and sedans account for more than 60 percent of Mazda's global sales, with minivans, minicars and SUVs making up the rest. Mazda stopped truck production in 2003. Its domestic plants are running at full capacity.

    Ford took effective control of Mazda in May 1996, raising its stake to the current 33.4 percent from 25 percent. Suffering from debt and excess capacity, Mazda lost 102 billion yen in the three years through March 1996.

    In 2007, Ford earned a $204 million pretax profit from its investment in Mazda, up from $168 million in 2006.

    ``Ford once saved Mazda,'' said Sakurai at Fukoku Mutual. ``Now Mazda is indispensable for Ford.''

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    Re: Mazda Extends Recovery by Designing Half of Ford Cars

    Post by car0_linex on Sun Jul 27, 2008 4:53 pm

    thank 4 sharing affraid

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    Re: Mazda Extends Recovery by Designing Half of Ford Cars

    Post by sodong on Fri Aug 15, 2008 1:28 am

    thanks 4 info bro garuda rock

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    Re: Mazda Extends Recovery by Designing Half of Ford Cars

    Post by Prodip2007 on Sun Aug 17, 2008 10:42 am

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