2023 Mazda CX-50 built in Alabama: A crossover made in the USA for the USA
Mazda last assembled vehicles in the United States a decade ago with Ford Motor Co. in Flat Rock, Michigan. Mazda ended production of the Mazda6 sedan at the plant in 2012 due to poor sales and red ink from its North American operations. The automaker opened a plant in Mexico in 2014.
In recent years, Mazda has found its footing after struggling with its identity as a small Asian brand in a sea of competition. It managed to move upmarket with plush trim, redesigned models and new crossovers, including the CX-30 subcompact that launched in 2020.
Mazda’s sales of 332,756 units last year marked its best performance since 1994. The automaker has done a good job managing the global semiconductor shortage with sales growing 19% from 2020, according to company data.
“As we have done globally, we will continue to monitor the chip situation,” Guyton said when asked about supplies for the CX-50 launch. “So far, we have worked closely with our partners and prepared well. I am delighted that we are launching production on time.”
Guyton also noted that dealer throughput – unit sales per dealership – set a record in 2021. “We are working closely with suppliers so that we can continue to grow our business in the United States and generate profits on the network,” he said.
Despite the pandemic and the wave of omicron variant infections in the United States, Guyton said the workforce situation at the Mazda Toyota Manufacturing plant is stable. Toyota began production of the Corolla Cross subcompact in September. It is not related to the CX-50.
“Despite the overall impact of COVID-19, MTM’s operations have progressed as planned,” Guyton said of the Alabama facility. “They’re still hiring, and we’re excited to fill the remaining positions as we ramp up production of the CX-50.”
The Mazda-Toyota adventure began four years ago with the announcement of a $1.6 billion plant with a capacity of 300,000 vehicles per year, split evenly between the two automakers.
Total investment in the joint venture rose to $2.3 billion after automakers added $830 million to the price in 2020 for more machinery and training.
Mazda said its first volume hybrid for North America will be a future CX-50 model using Toyota technology. It has plans for a separate plug-in hybrid based on the MX-30 EV that’s sold only in California but hasn’t set a launch date.
Mazda did not offer additional information on the CX-50 Hybrid. At launch, CX-50s will feature the automaker’s corporate four-cylinder engine, including a turbocharged option. Pricing and trim levels will be released closer to the spring on-sale date, Guyton said.
The 2023 CX-50 is slightly larger than Mazda’s best-selling CX-5, although both are classified as compact crossovers.
Mazda is positioning the CX-50 as a rugged adventure vehicle compared to the more city-friendly CX-5, which was refreshed last year and will remain in production, Guyton said.
“Mazda is taking this opportunity to build on the success of the CX-5 by expanding into this segment with a vehicle specifically designed for outdoor enthusiasts and customers with more active lifestyles,” Guyton said.