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Mazda to Stop Building Midsize Sedan in U.S.

Mazda announced Monday that it will build its next midsize car for North American shoppers in Japan in an effort to increase global manufacturing efficiencies. The Mazda6 midsize sedan is currently built in Japan, Michigan and China. The Mazda6 will continue to be built in Michigan until the end of its current cycle plan, the automaker says in a statement.

"The decision was made after carefully assessing all risks and opportunities, including global needs, changing demand in North America, and exchange rate exposure,” Takashi Yamanouchi, representative director and chairman of the board, president and CEO of Mazda Motor Corporation, says in a statement. “Going forward, Mazda will strive to maintain and grow our business in America.”

Mazda’s announcement to build its next midsize car (CD-car) at its Hofu Plant in Japan brings an end to a joint venture with Ford since 1992 at the AutoAlliance International assembly plant in Flat Rock, Mich., The Wall Street Journal reports. The Flat Rock, Mich. plant employs 1,700 workers, The Detroit News reports. The plant also produces the Ford Mustang.

Last month, Mazda denied rumors that the Mazda6 would be discontinued. Mazda’s U.S. CEO Jim O’Sullivan said at the time the current Mazda6 will continue to be sold for the next several years.

Although reviewers praise the Mazda6 for its roomy interior, sporty styling and fun driving experience, the sedan hasn’t sold well. Mazda sold 1,639 Mazda6 sedans in the U.S. this May, which is down 53 percent compared to May 2010. Mazda has sold 13,604 Mazda6’s since the beginning of the year, which is a decrease of 8.9 percent compared to the same time last year.

Despite the production shift, Yamanouchi says Mazda and Ford are looking at future options for the Michigan plant. “Mazda and Ford have enjoyed a close relationship for over 30 years,” he says. “We have collaborated on projects where there are mutual benefits, and both companies remain committed to continuing this strategic partnership."

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