Will a new name and a new platform give new life to Mazda’s mid-size hopes?
That’s the question that may be answered in part this week at the Tokyo Motor Show, as Japan’s fifth-largest carmaker and Ford affiliate unveils the Mazda 6, its new lineup of mid-size cars. Consisting of a four-door sedan, a five-door wagon and a five-door hatchback, the vehicle will also be sold in Japan as the Atenza.
2003 Mazda 6Enlarge Photo
On the edge
The 6 is a critical vehicle in Mazda’s plan for a wider share of global mid-size markets, particularly in North America. It’s evidence that the company has adopted a philosophy that turns away from its car-in-every-segment policy that nearly ruined the company in the early 1990s.
Back then, Mazda aggressively pursued larger brands like Toyota and Honda in nearly every market niche — a race it could ill afford, even with strong products like the executive-class Millenia. Since then, financial problems have been a constant source of turmoil for Mazda, which cut ten percent of its salaried workforce earlier this year as part of an aggressive turnaround plan. A sharp knife has trimmed debt by 50 percent since 1996, but it still stands at $5 billion, enough to choke a much larger company.