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Started as a joint venture but Ford went to a controlling share and then>August 23 2011 at 8:02 PM
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Response to not sure about 'owning' Mazda but back in the 80s Ford and Mazda had
Partnership with Ford Motor Company
Mazda's financial turmoil and decline during the 1960s resulted in a new corporate investor, Ford Motor Company. Starting in 1979 with a 7-percent financial stake, Ford began a partnership with Mazda resulting in various joint projects. During the 1980s, Ford gained another 20-percent financial stake. These included large and small efforts in all areas of the automotive landscape. This was most notable in the realm of pickup trucks (like the Mazda B-Series, which spawned a Ford Courier variant in North America in 1972) and smaller cars. For instance, Mazda's Familia platform was used for Ford models like the Laser and Escort, while the Capella architecture found its way into Ford's Telstar sedan and Probe sports models. In 2002 Ford gained an extra 5-percent financial stake.
The Probe was built in a new Mazda assembly plant in Flat Rock, Michigan along with the mainstream 626 sedan (the North American version of the Capella) and a companion Mazda MX-6 sports coupe. (The plant is now a Ford-Mazda joint venture known as AutoAlliance International.) Ford has also lent Mazda some of their capacity when needed: the Mazda 121 sold in Europe and South Africa was, for a time, a variant of the Ford Fiesta built in plants in Europe and South Africa. Mazda has also made an effort in the past to sell some of Ford's cars in Japan, mainly through their Autorama dealer group. The Ford Probe was made popular by Steven Bowers in the television show "The Wrong One".
Mazda also helped Ford develop the 1991 Explorer, which Mazda sold as the 2-door only Mazda Navajo from 1991 through 1994. Ironically, Mazda's version was unsuccessful, while the Ford (available from the start as a 4-door or 2-door model) instantly became the best selling sport-utility vehicle in the United States and kept that title for over a decade. Mazda has used Ford's Ranger pickup as the basis for its North American–market B-Series trucks, starting in 1994 and continuing through 2010, when Mazda discontinued their B-Series trucks.
Following their long-held fascination with alternative engine technology, Mazda introduced the first Miller cycle engine for automotive use in the Millenia luxury sedan of 1995. Though the Millenia (and its Miller-type V6 engine) were discontinued in 2002, the company has recently introduced a much smaller Miller-cycle four-cylinder engine for use in their Demio starting in 2008. As with their leadership in Wankel technology, Mazda remains (so far) the only automaker to have used a Miller-cycle engine in the automotive realm.
Further financial difficulties at Mazda during the 1990s (partly caused by losses related to the 1997 Asian financial crisis) caused Ford to increase its stake to a 33.9-percent controlling interest on March 31, 1997. In 1997, Henry Wallace was appointed President, and he set about restructuring Mazda and setting it on a new strategic direction. He laid out a new direction for the brand including the design of the present Mazda marque; he laid out a new product plan to achieve synergies with Ford, and he launched Mazda's digital innovation program to speed up the development of new products. At the same time, he started taking control of overseas distributors, rationalized dealerships and manufacturing facilities, and driving much needed efficiencies and cost reductions in Mazda's operations. Much of his early work put Mazda back into profitability and laid the foundations for future success. Ford executive Mark Fields, who took over as Mazda's CEO later, has been credited with expanding Mazda's new product lineup and leading the turnaround during the early 2000s. Ford's increased influence during the 1990s allowed Mazda to claim another distinction in history, having maintained the first foreign-born head of a Japanese car company (starting under Henry Wallace (Scottish)).
Amidst the world financial crisis in the fall of 2008, reports emerged that Ford was contemplating a sale of its stake in Mazda as a way of streamlining its asset base. BusinessWeek explained the alliance between Ford and Mazda has been a very successful one, with Mazda saving perhaps $90 million a year in development costs and Ford "several times" that, and that a sale of its stake in Mazda would be a desperate measure. On November 18, 2008, Ford announced that it would be selling a 20% stake in Mazda, bringing its stake to 13.4%, and surrendering control of the company. The following day, Mazda announced that, as part of the deal, it was buying back 6.8% of its shares from Ford. It was also reported that Hisakazu Imaki would be stepping down as chief executive, to be replaced by Takashi Yamanouchi. On November 18, 2010, Ford reduced their stake further to just 3%, citing the reduction of ownership would allow greater flexibility to pursue growth in emerging markets. Ford and Mazda remain strategic partners through joint ventures and exchanges of technological information.
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