The mission facing Mazda North America’s new president will be guiding the brand as it re-establishes U.S. manufacturing and attempts to aggressively broaden its crossover offerings.
Jeff Guyton, a former Ford manager and currently CEO of Mazda Motor Europe, was named president of Mazda North American Operations last week.
Guyton, 52, will report to Masahiro Moro, 58, currently president and CEO of Mazda North American Operations. Moro will become chairman and CEO. With the new appointment, Moro will additionally oversee Mazda’s operations in Canada and Mexico.
David Klan, a 27-year veteran of Mazda, was named CEO of Mazda Canada Inc., succeeding Massey Kondo, who was promoted to general manager, global sales and marketing division, at Mazda Motor Corp.
The changes are effective April 1, Mazda said. Yasuhiro Aoyama will replace Guyton in Europe.
Guyton’s U.S. homecoming happens as Mazda is stepping up the rollout of fresh product, targeting more sales outside sedans, and is knee-deep in constructing a joint-venture assembly plant with Toyota in Huntsville, Ala., where Mazda intends to produce a new crossover.
Guyton has led Mazda Motor Europe since 2009. Before that, he served for six years as the CFO there.
Mazda sold 228,210 vehicles in Europe in 2018, according to JATO data, an increase of 1.1 percent.‘Best of both worlds’
Guyton worked for nine years at Ford Motor Co. as a financial analyst and later as a finance manager. When he joined Ford of Japan in 1991, he was its first non-Japanese employee.
In his new role, Guyton will oversee all aspects of Mazda’s operations in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, including sales, marketing, parts and service, customer support and regional operations, among other duties, the automaker said.
Jim Bagan, co-owner of Roger Beasley Automotive Group, with four Mazda stores in the Austin, Texas, area, said the management move will allow Moro to continue the automaker’s strategy of giving the brand a more premium position in the market, while Guyton will be able to focus on getting sales ramped up for the opening of the Toyota-Mazda plant.
The 3.3-million-square-foot, $1.6 billion plant will give Mazda 150,000 crossovers a year once production begins in 2021. Its first product has not been identified yet. The plant also will produce the Toyota Corolla.
Masashi Otsuka will be promoted to senior vice president of the Alabama business unit, a new position, reporting to Guyton, according to Mazda.
“With Moro-san’s additional responsibilities, I don’t think he would be able to give us 100 percent of the attention the dealer body wants,” Bagan told Automotive News. “Mazda addressed that by giving us the best of both worlds. Jeff … knows where we’ve stumbled and where we’ve been successful. He has the relationships here with Moro-san and in Japan with other senior executives to get us the resources, to get us the ear and the attention that all of us in America want.”Volume boost?
Mazda sold 300,325 vehicles in the U.S. last year, an increase of 3.8 percent. Its U.S. market share last year stood at 1.7 percent, according to the Automotive News Data Center, well behind the likes of its larger Japanese competitors, including Toyota (12.3 percent), Honda (8.3 percent), Nissan (7.8 percent) and Subaru (3.9 percent).
Mazda is in the middle of launching its redesigned Mazda3 sedan and hatchback and unveiled a new crossover, the CX-30, at the Geneva auto show this month.
The eventual addition of the CX-30, which will slot above the subcompact CX-3 but below the compact CX-5, and the yet-to-be identified crossover from Alabama will increase Mazda’s U.S. crossover lineup to five models. That could give its U.S. volume a significant boost as the automaker looks to go beyond the 400,000-vehicle mark in its largest market.
One crossover, the CX-5, accounted for half of the brand’s U.S. sales in 2018.
Bagan said Mazda dealers have a number of critical wishes for Mazda: the successful launch of the redesigned Mazda3 sedan and hatchback and the creation of a sustainable advertising message.
“We’ve always felt that we’ve underperformed in sales, compared to where the quality of our car is,” he said. “I think Jeff’s biggest pressure from the dealer body will be getting our marketing finally caught up with the quality of cars we’ve built.”