Mazda to build next mid-size car in Japan

DETROIT (Reuters) – Mazda Motor Co will build the next version of its mid-size car for the North American market at one of its two plants in Japan, the automaker said Monday.

The car, the Mazda6, is now built at the Flat Rock plant in Michigan, which Mazda runs jointly with Ford Motor Co. The next Mazda6 will be built at Mazda’s Hofu plant in the Yamaguchi prefecture.

“The decision was made after carefully assessing all risks and opportunities, including global needs, changing demand in North America, and exchange rate exposure,” Takashi Yamanouchi, chief executive of Mazda, said in a statement.

The car will be built at Flat Rock until the end of its cycle plan. Ford spokeswoman Marcey Evans and Mazda spokesman Jeremy Barnes declined to specify when that would be.

Last week, the Nikkei business daily reported that Mazda would cease production in the United States by 2013 and cancel its joint venture with Ford. [ID:nL3E7H30FB]

Ford and Mazda said they were working to spot future opportunities for the plant, where Ford builds its Mustang.

“Ford is currently working with Mazda and the UAW to study options for the plant after Mazda6 production is moved,’ Ford said in a statement.

According a plant fact sheet, the Flat Rock plant employs 1,600 hourly and 163 salaried workers. (Reporting by Deepa Seetharaman; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)