Mazda is officially back to making vehicles in the U.S.
Jeff Guyton, CEO of Mazda North American Operations, piloted the first production CX-50 off the line Wednesday at the automaker’s joint-venture plant with Toyota in Huntsville, Ala.
“The production of the CX-50 here signifies the importance of the North American market to Mazda and our commitment to investing in the U.S.,” Guyton said in a statement.
The 2023 CX-50 crossover is a new vehicle designed for the U.S. It is bigger than Mazda’s bestselling CX-5, but both are classified as compact.
Mazda is positioning the CX-50 as a rugged adventure vehicle compared with the more city-friendly CX-5, which was freshened last year and will remain in production, Guyton has said.
Mazda last assembled cars in the U.S. a decade ago as part of a joint venture with Ford Motor Co. Elsewhere in North America, the automaker has built vehicles for the U.S. at its Salamanca, Mexico, plant since 2014.
The U.S. joint venture, Mazda Toyota Manufacturing, began four years ago with the announcement of a $1.6 billion plant with total capacity of 300,000 vehicles per year, evenly split between the two automakers. Toyota began production of the Corolla Cross subcompact crossover in September.
Total investment in the joint venture rose to $2.3 billion after the automakers added $830 million to the price tag in 2020 for more machinery and training.
Mazda said the additional investment “allowed for incorporation of more cutting-edge technologies, enhancement of … world-class training for employees and the further development of production processes,” including “production line modifications for the Mazda and Toyota vehicles being built.”
While the Corolla Cross and CX-50 are not related, the two automakers said they are working together on parts procurement and other efficiencies.
Mazda has said its first hybrid for North America will be a future CX-50 model using Toyota technology. Toyota is a global leader in hybrids and has shared its technology with other automotive partners, such as Subaru.
Mazda has not offered any further information on the hybrid.
Other details of CX-50 production in Alabama:
- Mazda Toyota Manufacturing will employ as many as 4,000 workers at full production, in addition to thousands of supplier jobs.
- The CX-50 was designed to easily accommodate common outdoor equipment with its high-strength roof rails and reinforced B-pillars. It comes standard with all-wheel drive.
- While rugged outside, the CX-50 has an interior that is reflective of the brand’s aspirations to move upmarket into the premium space, with the first panoramic moonroof in a Mazda vehicle.
The CX-50 is due to go on sale in the spring.