Report: Mazda will halt the development and production of commercial vehicles

Article by Christian A., on March 26, 2012

As auto demand in Japan had dwindled, Mazda Motor Corp. has made the decision to halt the development and production of commercial vehicles in the second half of the decade, according to a Nikkei report. This means that the company won’t anymore develop or build any of the commercial vehicles it offers to the market.

The Nikkei said that Mazda currently procures trucks from Isuzu Motors Ltd. Nissan Motor Co. provides the commercial vans while Suzuki Motor Corp. supplies its commercial minivehicles. It isn’t clear yet if Mazda will stop commercial vehicle sales outside of its domestic market too.

Mazda presently sells its E-series light trucks and panel vans outside of Japan. It also makes the BT-50 pickup truck for personal and commercial use in the following countries: Thailand, Columbia, South Africa, Ecuador and Zimbabwe. The Nikkei also reported that its box-style and small-truck Bongo, which made its debut in 1966 and was a best-seller for a long time, has had slow demand lately.

This is due to the stagnation in the commercial vehicle market in Japan as well as the rise in competition. Mazda’s first ever entry to the automobile market was in 1931 with the Mazda-go, a three-wheeled truck.

Mazda estimates that next week, it will report a group net loss of JPY100 billion ($1.21 billion) for the year that is ending, Mazda will still overhaul money-losing operations and will focus its resources on passenger vehicles that use its Skyactiv technology, which has a highly fuel-efficient engine as its main feature.

Mazda was founded in Hiroshima, Japan, on January 30, 1920, as Toyo Cork Kogyo Co., Ltd. In 1927, Toyo Cork Kogyo was renamed as Toyo Kogyo Co. In 1931, Toyo Kogyo started production of the Mazda-Go autorickshaw. While every vehicle that Toyo Kogyo has sold since the beginning carries the Mazda name, company formally adopted the Mazda name only in 1984.

In 1974, Mazda started entering into partnerships with Ford Motor Co., which in turn acquired a 24.5 percent stake in the Japanese carmaker in 1979. As of May 1995, Ford had a stake of 33.4 percent in Mazda. When Alan Mulally took over at Ford in 2008, the US carmaker started to gradually divest its stake in Mazda.

During the global financial crisis in 2008, there were saying that Ford was mulling selling its stake in Mazda to streamline. In November 2008, Ford announced that it planned to sell a 20 percent stake in Mazda, thereby slashing its holdings in the Japanese carmaker to 13.4 percent. Mazda then announced that it was buying back 6.8 percent of its shares from Ford for around $185 million.

By November 2010, Ford’s stake in Mazda was at 3 percent, with Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group emerging as the Japanese carmaker’s largest shareholder.

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