BARI, Italy – The arrival of the CX-5 compact crossover, which uses Mazda's new scalable vehicle architecture, marks the beginning of the post-Ford era for the Japanese company.
Ford once controlled 33.4 percent of Mazda, giving it management rights, but now has just 3.5 percent after divesting most of its stake as part of the One Ford restructuring process in 2008.
The CX-5 is the first car to use Mazda's new architecture, which will also be used on the replacements to the Mazda3 compact, Mazda6 mid-sized and the CX-7 mid-sized crossover. At full usage, the new architecture will underpin about 80 percent of Mazda's global volume.
In 2008, with Ford preparing to exit, Mazda began thinking about how it should seek to reshape its future as independent automaker with the target of building about 1.2 million cars a year.
Mazda's eventual answer to carving out an independent future was very similar to what was decided by another former Ford subsidiary, Volvo.
Last year, Ford sold Volvo to Zhejiang Geely Holding Co. for $1.5 billion and the Swedish automaker too began to develop its own engines and underpinnings.
A new design direction, a new scalable vehicle architecture and a new family of engines all mark the similarities in Mazda's and Volvo's strategy.
Mazda's new design direction, called Kodo, or 'soul in motion' in Japanese, was first seen on the Shinari concept in 2010 and then applied to the Minagi, an almost production-ready CX-5 unveiled as a concept at the Geneva show in March.
Unlike the new design look, Mazda's new architecture has not been given an official name yet. Designed for front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive application it will go on sale with the CX-5 from March in Japan and from April in Europe.