New President of Mazda North America Heads Ambitious Plan for Growth

Jeff Guyton is in charge of re-establishing Mazda’s U.S. manufacturing footprint and rolling out new vehicles.

Jeff Guyton, a former Ford manager and current CEO of Mazda Motor Europe, has been named president of Mazda’s North American Operations.

In his new role, Guyton will oversee all of the automaker’s operations in the U.S. and Puerto Rico: sales, marketing, parts and service, customer support, regional operations and more.

Jim Bagan, who co-owns four Mazda stores in Austin, Texas, is encouraged by the new leadership. “Jeff … knows where we’ve stumbled and where we’ve been successful,” Bagan said. “He has the relationships here with Moro-san [Masahiro Moro, who Guyton is replacing and who will move up to become chairman and CEO] 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.”

Guyton takes the reins on April 1—at an important moment for the automaker’s U.S. operations. The company just launched its redesigned Mazda3 sedan and hatchback, and unveiled its new CX-30 crossover at the Geneva Auto Show in March. Mazda is aggressively targeting the crossover market, with a possible second crossover model to be rolled out in the near future.

The CX-30 will increase Mazda’s U.S. crossover roster to five models, which could give the automaker a significant boost in its biggest market segment—a segment where it lags behind other, larger Japanese competitors. Mazda hopes to surpass the 400,000-vehicle mark in that market. Its CX-5 crossover alone accounted for half of the company’s U.S. sales last year.

Mazda introduces its new 2019 Mazda3

The company is also in the middle of building a massive joint-venture factory with Toyota in Huntsville, Alabama—where one of its crossovers will be built.

The 3.3-million-square-foot plant, which will cost $1.6 billion to build and will be operational in 2021, will produce 150,000 crossovers a year for Mazda . The plant will also manufacture the Toyota Corolla.

Mazda has an enthusiastic fan base and a reputation for quality vehicles. But it a relatively small player, accounting for only 1.7 per cent of the U.S. market share. Guyton will be expected to help the automaker expand its market presence.

“We’ve always felt that we’ve underperformed in sales, compared to where the quality of our car is,” said Bagan. “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.”

Read more about the latest in the automotive industry at Toyota to Invest 10 Billion in U.S. Automotive Manufacturing.