Mazda builds and exports more vehicles from Japan by percentage of total volume than any other automaker, which means it has been hit harder than most by the strength of the Japanese yen. Compounding matters further, between 2008 and 2010, Ford reduced its stake in Mazda from a controlling 33-percent share to less than four percent, meaning the automaker doesn't have any extra-deep pockets to help bridge the financial gap until profits improve and a North American factory located in Mexico is completed.

The results of this perfect financial storm have been predictable: Mazda posted a net loss in 2011 of about $1.29 billion, marking the fourth consecutive year of red ink and the largest loss since 2001. That's all very bad news for any automaker, but especially so for one as small and independent as Mazda. As such, it's no surprise that Mazda CEO Takashi Yamanouchi has said that his company is "actively" seeking partners and that "every option" is being considered.

Naturally, considering "every option" includes the potential of licensing its lightweight and efficient Skyactiv fuel-saving technology to other automakers. In any case, after already losing the rotary (for now, at least) the thought of an automotive world without the MX-5 makes us shudder. Here's hoping Mazda regains its financial footing before anything drastic happens.


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  • 104 Comments
      brgtlm
      • 3 Years Ago
      In an era where the automakers have consolidated under conglomerates or partnerships, it is getting much harder for the smaller guys like Mazda. I do hope they are able to come through since they really do make interesting and dynamic vehicles. Most of the dance partners are already taken so its definitely slim pickings for them. Unfortunately, that really leaves some Indian or Chinese company or investor to come in and provide capital. I hope that the CX-5 is a great success for them. The next Mazda6 needs to be a winner too. They need to stop chasing the Accord and Camry, because they simply do not have the marketing capital and might to go after them like Hyundai has. Their best bet is to do like the Mazda3 - offer a great car that appeals to a loyal and dedicated fanbase. Trying to please everyone will please nobody.
      SethG
      • 3 Years Ago
      Obviously the strength of the yen hurts exports so they need to develop more production around the world or partner with someone. But that's the boring stuff. Here's my perspective on their product: Mazda2: Good effort. Well regarded. Like the Fit before it, it's US debut should be followed by a quick re-do but unlike the Fit they should actually improve the car. In this case, focus should be on fuel economy first and foremost. Skyactiv tech could help. Mazda3: Great. Class leading everywhere but interior. Mazda5: Well regarded. Weak sales. Worth another try in case the market moves in this direction but shouldn't invest too much in it. Mazda6: Weakest offering in the lineup. Really not a standout in its class in any way. It lost its soul when it grew to class competitive (huge) dimensions. The launch of it's successor is going to be important. Please make the diesel available in the US at launch. You need the press on your side with this car and this will help. CX-5: I don't know if this was a good idea. It's a crowded segment. Even a small percentage of a big pie is a lot of cars. But will it stand out? CX-7: Don't spend a dime on this one right now. Focus on the CX-5 roll out and get moving on the next CX-9. If GM can get by with only 2 sizes of CUV then Mazda certainly can. CX-9: Really important. Hot segment and the current model is still at or near the top despite its age. But you want to stay ahead of the competition. Focus needs to be on fuel economy. Can Skyactiv tech in the CX-9 do what Ecoboost couldn't really do for the Explorer: deliver a real efficiency gain under real world conditions. MX-5: Everyone loves it. But I'm a little nervous about the Toyota/Scion/Subaru competitor around the corner. This car may face some real competition on the low end for the first time. Finally, the skyactiv name sucks. It means nothing and never will mean anything to most buyers. Lots of companies have dumb names for tech. Mazda is not alone. But Mazda can't afford to spend time and money explaining it's tech to the public. They need a name that speaks for itself.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @SethG
        [blocked]
        Andres Salazar Tello
        • 3 Years Ago
        @SethG
        I wouldn't be so worried about the MX-5, mazda has had many competitor since 1990, no one has lasted very much against it, one big advantage of the mx-5 is that it is sold worldwide unlike many of its direct competitors. I am also expecting next cx-7 and cx-9, in Mexico(I live there) the cx-7 is their second best selling car, even more the the 2 and in some months selling more the the 3 itself, there are strange markets where mazda is very big (Mexico, Canada or Australia as examples)...
      Myself
      • 3 Years Ago
      I just hope the new partner will preserve the essence of Mazda. Because... what on earth would I drive then???!!! I'd wage in with my savings if it helped. Or I could buy a Mazda 2 :-)
      Dvanos
      • 3 Years Ago
      Not happy to hear I'm not a huge Mazda fan but they seem to make fun driving cars compared to Toyota and Honda.
      MyerShift
      • 3 Years Ago
      I had no idea Mazda was in such difficulty! I am sure the kooky styling hasn't helped matters either. The first gen Mazda3's looks should have been evolved. It was practically ideal in that regard.
      Georg
      • 3 Years Ago
      The problem for Mazda is that there are currently not many companys able to help... Fiat Chrysler no way that they could strech their money to get Mazda under a resscue umbrella...next to that Fiat is heavly punished by the europen crisis because it is only focused on the europen market. Renaul(Nissan) unlikely ... the only company left with the pockets filled with tons of cash to play around is VW their modelineup match each other so they could easy safe money and VW is master in selling one technology rebaged under 4names without hurting each other or getting into a identity crisis Mazda could benefit from the modular platforms and throw in some engines ...and VW finaly could break into the japanese market
      AUS.DAVIDZ
      • 3 Years Ago
      I remember around 20+ years ago the then current Italian CEO of FIAT [forgot his name, Agnelli??] mentioned that in the future perhaps 5/6 brands/groups would run the world auto empire, if your not in that group, your dead. Frankly, Mazda is way to small, it is not a player, top urgent it needs to partner with another to get the volume and scales of production done right, it now looks like it is going to need to be rescued........again! For mine, they, Mazda ["you should see us now"] should join with FIAT/CHRYSLER Group and also inc. Peugeot/Citroen in that marriage [already chatting], which would then also inc. Mitsubishi, and then Suzuki [also already chatting] Other than Mazda, all those mentioned above have or had joint relationships in the past or currently. The annual production would be right up there with BigT[tm.F/0] and vw group, in fact i believe it would be the #1 selling group on the planet. "Coming to get you vw"! DO IT SERGIO!!, make it happen NO MORE LANCIA IN A CHRYSLER FROCK [PUKE!]
      lasertekk
      • 3 Years Ago
      Regarding Mazda licensing the so-called 'SkyActiv' technology. It's just direct injection. All major manufacturers already have it or are working on it with release imminent to cope with future emissions and economy requirements.
        Ingeniero
        • 3 Years Ago
        @lasertekk
        That's not true at all. You do know outside of the states it has a compression ratio of 14:1 right?
          lasertekk
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Ingeniero
          I think you're missing the point. Other companies have figured it too, to varying degrees, to fit their product line. I don't really think they have something one of the mainstream car companies would be interested in.
        aviboy97
        • 3 Years Ago
        @lasertekk
        Your view could not be further from the truth. There are over 200 patents in regards to SKYACTIV Technology ranging from piston design, DI, transmission design and much much more. Mazda is the only manufacturer to figure out how to run a high compression engine on regular fuel w/o per-ignition. Also, they are one of the few non-hybrid design to actually get their EPA estimates while not sacrificing performance. The CX-5 is actually a bit faster than the CR-V which has 30 more horsepower. So, you still think SKYACTIV is meaningless? Oh, BTW, Toyota has already reached out to Mazda in reference to their technology....
      exxxcite
      • 3 Years Ago
      I really enjoy our miata, mazda3 and cx-9. I hope they figure this out. I started buying mazdas once Honda stopped making cars that appeal to people who enjoy driving. Mazda is my go to company now for affordable, reliable enjoyment!
        damdnation
        • 3 Years Ago
        @exxxcite
        Affordable? The Miata seems like it should be priced a 17,000 price range, but it starts at 23,500.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @damdnation
          [blocked]
          exxxcite
          • 3 Years Ago
          @damdnation
          Only drop top I can think of that costs less than the miata is the jeep wrangler :) and I don't think there is any cross shopping between the two.
          finzenchrome
          • 3 Years Ago
          @damdnation
          When you corner a market and have seen all these other roadsters come and go, failing miserably in their pursuit, you can charge any dam price you want.
      Master Austin
      • 3 Years Ago
      SktActive is more about marketing than anything else in my opinion. Compare the engine to Ford or Hyundais 2.0L and the fuel economy is similar. Supposedly the compression ratio is a high 13:1, but the EPA is nothing extraordinary of what's already out there.
        Chris Bangle
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Master Austin
        The Focus engine is direct injected like the skyactiv. Ford just didn't give a name to it. The Elantra makes its fuel economy like the Civic does... low power, low weight. Mazda's skyactiv means you don't have to give up HP and acceleration for fuel economy. You can have both.
      fat kid
      • 3 Years Ago
      Geely should take over Mazda, as their Volvo subsidiary is planning on building a plant in NA.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        inkarri
        • 3 Years Ago
        The 6 can be either bread and butter or exciting, not both. It went from Exciting to Bread and suffered for it.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @inkarri
          [blocked]
        Matt
        • 3 Years Ago
        Hmm. A company in financial trouble. Investing all the money and R&D into a Halo $85k car? Not such a good idea buddy.
        R Man Manmanman
        • 3 Years Ago
        A...$85k RX7? That isn't an RX-7, granted the 90s were a long time ago...
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