Production of the Mazda6 at the AutoAlliance International plant (a joint venture plant of Mazda Motor Corp. and Ford Motor Co.) will end after the present life cycle of the sedan. Mazda confirmed reports from various Japanese media that production of the next Mazda6 will be consolidated into a plant in Hofu, Japan.
There are currently three sites that produce the Mazda6. There’s the plant in Flat Rock, Mich. operated by AutoAlliance International, Mazda's 50-50 joint venture with Ford.
There’s also a plant in Hofu, Japan, and another one in China. Mazda reiterated that it is considering plans for what’s in store for AutoAlliance in the future.
Ford spokesmen have not yet given their comments on what Mazda plans for Flat Rock. Ending production at AutoAlliance would mean that the plant won’t have even a single Mazda product. The Mustang is produced in Flat Rock. This plan is slated to take place in the middle of 2012.
This is also about the time that the replacement of the current Mazda6 will arrive. This updated version features Mazda's new SkyActiv powertrain technologies as well as design cues from Mazda's Shinari concept sedan that made its debut at the Los Angeles auto show last November.
In May 2011, sales of Mazda6 dropped by 53% to 1,639 units compared to the same month the previous year. Meanwhile, sales through May totaled 13,604 units, a 9% drop from the same period in 2010. In Mazda’s fiscal year that ended March 31, Mazda posted a $102.6 million loss for AutoAlliance. This pulled down the North American operations further. It was the sole region to post an operating loss in 2010.
The Mazda 6's strong appeal lies in its exterior design and a roomy, distinguished interior. It bears the new family face of the brand, which aims to continue the trend with a new sporty look and a number of interior updates including the finish on the steering wheel and the dash in the latest iteration.
The new Mazda 6 exterior design includes changes to the fog lamp bezels, which have been lowered and now contain an eye inside the lamps to aid in the overall sense of quality.
The fog lamps are not the only changes with modifications to the grille including the new winged Mazda logo which is either black on most versions or tempered to the colour of the car on the sports version and some redesigned headlamps. The 6 completes these changes with a series of lines running from the grille to the fenders and up to the bonnet, giving the new Mazda 6 the most dynamic looking front.
The winged motifs at the front are duplicated at the back creating lamps whose new chrome-plated winged decorations, with the clear lenses and LED inserts, make them look wider and yet blend into the side panels.
The changes to the Mazda 6 also include aluminum custom wheel designs which are available in 17 and 18 inch frames and which are over a kilogram lighter than those of previous models. Finally the exterior is available in 10 different colours including some new colours in the Mazda 6 range – Graphite Mica, Black Mica and Clear Water Blue Metallic and Midnight Bronze Mica.
Changes to the Mazda 6's interior design include a refining of all the materials, giving the new model a facelift. With chrome plating and detailing on everything from the climate control, parking brake and door handles, the 6's knobs and switches all come as standard in piano-black.
The decorative panels are available in matte-silver in the standard and silver-hairline in the glossier look Sports Grade version which also has the upholstery available in brown leather.
The new Sports Grade version, as mentioned previously, has a number of interesting upgrades especially for the customer looking for something more dynamic. These alterations include larger branding available on the grille, sideways extending wing-shaped mouldings (available in the same colour as the main body), wing-shaped position lamps, swivel-type adaptive front headlamps, LED rear lamps and fog lamps with the silver lined bezels. Completing the inside alterations are a glossy finish on the decoration panels, piano-black switches, brown, black or black half-leather upholstery with the half-leather seats available in a sporty vertical stripe.