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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