Mazda Motor Corporation and Ford Motor Company today announced plans to build a new passenger car plant at AutoAlliance Thailand (AAT) -- their joint venture manufacturing plant -- to produce both companies' B-car segment small passenger cars. Mazda and Ford's small car production will commence at the new plant in 2009. The total initial investment of more than $US 500 million for the new plant construction is expected to be split evenly between Mazda and Ford.

The new AAT passenger car plant will be built on the same site as the existing pickup truck plant. To maximize manufacturing efficiency and flexibility, the new plant will feature an integrated production line from stamping through to final assembly. In addition, the Three Layer Wet Paint system – invented by Mazda – will be introduced as a space-saving measure and the completely refurbished paint shop facility will be used for painting both pickups and passenger cars. The Three Wet Paint system dramatically reduces VOC and CO2 emissions and waste, and improves paint quality.

The new passenger car plant will incorporate Mazda's production methods into each stage of the production process, and it will be able to accommodate assembly of passenger cars ranging from the small B-car segment up to midsize CD-segment vehicles.

The new plant's production capacity is projected to be 100,000 units per year. Combined with the annual output from the pickup plant, AAT's production capacity, including complete knock down (CKD) units, will expand to 275,000 units from its current 175,000 units annually. Going forward, Mazda plans to sell its AAT-manufactured small car in Thailand in addition to exporting it to other ASEAN markets.

"The construction of the new passenger car plant at AAT is one of the major strategic moves we are making to raise global retail sales to 1.6 million units under our mid-term Mazda Advancement Plan," said Hisakazu Imaki, Representative Director, Chairman of the Board and President, Mazda Motor Corporation. "The AAT plant is an outstanding symbol of our deepening synergies with Ford. Mazda will make maximum use of the new passenger car plant to enhance our product lineup in Thailand and for other export markets. In line with the new plant construction, we expect even greater direct and indirect contributions to the Thai economy."
AAT currently purchases roughly 90 percent of its components from Thai-based suppliers as part of its contributions to the local economy, and the new plant construction will create an increase in local parts sourcing. AAT anticipates the hiring of an additional 2,000 employees by the time the new plant's production commences which will result in the creation of approximately 8,000 total jobs, including indirect jobs at suppliers and related enterprises.

AAT is Mazda's strategic production facility for the ASEAN region. It is at the center of the company's drive to deliver Zoom-Zoom vehicles that "look inviting to drive, are fun to drive, and make you want to drive them again" to as many customers as possible. And it is at the heart of Mazda's brand-building and the key to its success and future growth in this region.