TOKYO, June 16 Mazda Motor Corp is set
to announce on Friday plans for a new factory in the central
Mexican state of Guanajuato, a source familiar with the matter
The factory will be the fourth overseas assembly site for
the Japanese automaker after the United States, China and
Thailand -- all joint ventures with former top shareholder, Ford
Motor Co .
Construction of the new plant in Mexico is set to begin this
fall, with vehicle production to start in the second half of
2013, the source said on condition of anonymity because the
information is not yet public.
Mazda plans to build compact cars, initially for sale in
Mexico and South America, and eventually export to North
America, the source said.
The investment is likely to be in the hundreds of millions
of dollars, to be shared with trading company Sumitomo Corp
, a second source said. The factory will have initial
capacity to build at least 50,000 cars a year.
Mazda is set to make the announcement along with its
financial forecasts for the business year to March 2012, due at
3 p.m. (0600 GMT) on Friday, the first source said.
Japanese automakers are under pressure to reduce exports as
a strong yen makes it difficult to make money on exports,
especially for smaller, lower-margin cars.
Mazda is especially vulnerable, producing more than
two-thirds of its 1.277 million vehicles in Japan in the
business year that ended in March. It shipped more than 80
percent of Japan-made cars overseas.
Mazda has said it was considering building a new assembly
plant in an emerging market to meet growing demand but has not
specified where. Last year, it posted record sales and market
share in Mexico, which has attracted a growing number of
investment deals from Japan, and the auto industry.
Mexico is now the ninth-biggest vehicle producer in the
world, with a record 2.261 million vehicles produced in 2010, up
50 percent from 2009, according to the Mexican Automotive
Mexico's auto sector, a key driver of industrial activity,
is closely tied to demand from the United States and it has
helped the domestic economy rebound from a deep recession.
(Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Chris Gallagher)