Mazda eyes Brazil assembly ventures

JIJI

Mazda Motor Corp. may start assembling vehicles in Brazil because the major emerging economy plans to restrict imports of finished cars in 2015 to protect its domestic auto industry, Mazda Chairman and President Takashi Yamanouchi revealed Wednesday.

“We are in talks with several Brazilian automakers on possible local knockdown production” in which Mazda would supply parts and components, Yamanouchi said in Los Angeles.

Yamanouchi expressed a strong desire for Mazda to make a full-fledged foray into the quickly growing market, where more than 4 million vehicles are sold each year.

“If we have a local plant, we can avert the (import restriction) problem,” Yamanouchi said.

Set to launch local production in Mexico in early 2014, Mazda initially planned to make the Mexican plant the export base for the North and Latin American markets. The plant will have an initial capacity of 140,000 small vehicles a year based on subcompacts like the Demio.

But an auto dispute between Mexico and Brazil has made it hard for Mazda to proceed with the Brazil-bound export plan.

In North American, Yamanouchi said that with the launch of the fully remodeled Mazda6 sedan, Mazda will expand products equipped with its unique Skyactiv technology to improve fuel economy and driving performance.