The simultaneous introduction of the Ford Fiesta and Mazda2 at the LA Auto Show last week marks the end of a long history of platform sharing between Ford and Mazda. After two decades of collaboration, Ford has decided to develop vehicles separately from now on, according to Ford president Mark Fields.
In the past year Ford has continually reduced its involvement in Mazda, selling off much of its stake in the Japanese automaker (from 33 to just 11 percent), in order to avoid bankruptcy.
The news comes as a blow to Mazda as almost its entire product lineup is based on Ford products, the the Mazda3/CX-7 based on the Focus platform, the Tribute based on the Escape platform and the CX-9 based on the Ford Edge platform. Interestingly, however, Ford’s popular Fusion sedan is based on the Mazda6 platform and the new Fiesta is based on the Mazda2.
Still, Mazda will now have to develop new platforms on its own, which some analysts have suggested it just isn’t large enough to do. Mazda recently announced it would raise $1.1 billion for research into hybrid powertrains as it became obvious that Ford wasn’t willing to share its new hybrid technology.
Ford does continue to hold a majority stake in Mazda and has said it will still work together with the Japanese automaker in certain areas – which may include both transmission and engine sharing. Ford did, after all, begin its business relationship with Mazda back in 1969 with a transmission sharing program.
The news does, however, leave Mazda with a very serious and very real problem.