James Miller replaced Henry Wallace as president of Mazda Motor Corp. last November. Miller was a Ford marketing executive before joining Mazda. He was interviewed at the Geneva auto show by Georg Auer of Automotive News Europe
Will Mazda build a world car?
We have had nothing but world cars for decades. Actually, we could not afford to have anything but one car for the world.
Will Mazda use the new Ford Focus platform for the next 323?
The new 323 platform is only one year old. It is as good as the Ford Focus platform.
There is no reason to change over. When we have reached agreement with Ford on the platform cycle plan for the next 10 years or so we might share platforms.
What makes Mazda distinct?
Its special appearance and distinctive footprint. It is something like a DNA print in a human being - something only this brand has.
We have to guard this carefully from inception of the car until the day we take it to the market. Even after we start to share platforms with Ford we will have a distinctly different appearance.
How will you merge your cycle plan with Ford?
Of course we want to have a full range of cars but there are always sectors in which we are better, especially in the compact sector.
The main task now is to have a vehicle aimed at the middle of this compact car segment. It must be very distinctive to achieve profitable volume and growth.
Does Mazda need a plant in Europe?
We are only using 75 percent of our Japanese capacity, which might rise to 80 or 85 percent this year. So we do not need any more.
But our three design and development centers in Japan, California and near Frankfurt will be kept.
They help us understand the needs of the different regions.
Where does your production go?
Some 30 to 40 percent of production should be sold in Japan itself. We export 570,000 cars.
Some 230,000 should be sold in Europe this year. Sales there should improve now that the full line up of the 626 is available. Around 235,000 vehicles should be sold in the USA and 50,000 to 60,000 in various other markets.