IRVINE — Mazda Motor Co.'s new North American chief executive said Thursday that the company is reviewing its U.S. and Canadian operations, from products to personnel, in light of slumping sales.
Several hundred people work at Mazda's U.S. headquarters in Irvine. Top executive Richard Beattie, who was speaking at the New York Auto Show where Mazda rolled out new versions of its 626 compact and its B-series small pickup, wouldn't say whether Mazda plans to cut any of its 1,600 North American employees. "There are no sacred cows," he said.
The company laid off hundreds of U.S. workers during a series of layoffs from 1992 to 1995.
The Japanese auto maker now operates five separate companies in North America. One of Beattie's jobs is to tie them all together, most likely under the banner of Irvine-based Mazda Motor of America Inc.
"We have need to become more efficient as a business," said Beattie, who was an export executive for Ford Motor Co. before joining Mazda on March 1. He was also a U.S. sales executive for Ford's Jaguar car unit.
Mazda, which is one-third owned by Ford, posted the worst 1996 sales performance among the Japan-based U.S. auto companies, with a 17% decline in U.S. sales.
Toyota Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. saw double-digit gains last year, while Nissan Motor Co.'s sales fell 3.4%.
The product line is undergoing review while Mazda tries to find its market niche, Beattie said. Last week the company said it's ending production of the MX-6 car, built in a joint Ford-Mazda plant in Flat Rock, Mich.
Mazda sales this year should be unchanged from the 238,285 last year, said George McCabe, senior vice president.