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Car and DriverNext-Gen Mazda 6 to Be Built in Japan, Casting Some Doubt on Future of Flat Rock, Michigan, Factory

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w3hv9dby-220x134.jpgThis announcement raises serious questions about the future of the AAI operation. Mazda and Ford each have a 50-percent stake in the factory; with the former’s's future at Flat Rock in jeopardy, the implication is the same for the the latter’s. For its part, Mazda says that it is committed to “identify[ing] potential future opportunities for the plant.” This strikes us as an unfortunately weak promise; if there were serious plans for a new product at Flat Rock on the table, we’d expect the statement to be more concrete in at least saying a decision will be made soon about which new product will be built there. A Ford spokesperson, however, was far more positive about her company’s future in Flat Rock, telling us that AAI “is a critical plant in Ford’s U.S. manufacturing footprint.” The Mustang remains a key product in both image and in profits for Ford, and we don’t imagine the company has any interest in picking up and moving the line to another factory. It’s uncertain whether Ford would have the option to buy Mazda’s stake in AAI if the latter decides not to build anything new there. We can easily imagine Ford taking the entirety of the factory and using it for . . . well, let’s not be too speculative about Ford and additional rear-wheel-drive cars.

There’s a decent amount of Mazda history at the Flat Rock production site. The company opened the factory in 1987, and built cars there alone until Ford bought a half stake in 1992. The Mazda MX-6 and 626 were built there, as were the Ford Probe and the most recent Mercury Cougar. We hope Mazda finds a good reason to hang around, or, at the very least, Ford can step in and maintain the jobs in C/D’s beleaguered home state.



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