Mazda6 US production kickoff, 2008

The photo above was taken July 23, 2008 at the production kickoff for the Mazda6 at the AutoAlliance International plant, jointly owned by Mazda and Ford, in Flat Rock, Michigan. And as of this week, though neither company made a big deal about it, the AutoAlliance facility stopped building the Mazda6, ending Mazda production in the United States.

Although Ford takes total practical control of AutoAlliance International, the two companies will maintain their 50-50 stake in the plant for now while Ford invests $550 million in the facility to gear up for 2013 Fusion production.

The plant has built some well-known nameplates, including the Probe, Cougar and Mustang. The success of the joint venture led to the opening of an AutoAlliance Thailand plant in Rayong, modeled on its Flat Rock forebear. Mazda's manufacturing departure from the U.S. will see 2014 Mazda6 production return to Japan; the automaker's North American production relocates to Salamanca, Mexico in early 2013.