During the 1990s, Ford Motor Company went on an international buying spree snapping up small automakers around the globe. Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover, and Aston Martin all were brought within the Ford fold, and Mazda, by default has become part of Ford's line up even though the Japanese automaker is "only" partly owned by Ford. Ford parts and Mazda parts are sometimes interchangeable as well as are some of their vehicles. Let's examine closely the relationship between the two automakers and how their synergies benefit both companies.
The relationship between Ford and Mazda has been growing over the years, but is well known by auto historians as having started in the early 1970s when the Mazda pick up truck was imported to the North American market by Ford and called the Courier. From 1972 to 1983, the Courier was part of the Ford line up, but in reality it was a Mazda.
From 1984 on, Ford decided to build its own small pickup truck and the Ranger was born. Mazda, meanwhile, redesigned their truck and sold it separately until 2002. When time came for a new Mazda truck, Mazda tapped Ford and the current Ranger was rebadged as the Mazda "B" series.
From 1991 to 2001 Ford's Explorer was rebadged and sold as the Mazda Navajo. Only a two door version was available and the line was eventually dropped as Mazda concentrated on their own SUV, namely the Tribute.
Are you confused yet? Don't be as the two automakers have exchanged parts and vehicles for decades.
In the early part of this decade, Ford, which has a very strong truck division, needed a vehicle that was smaller and less costly than the pricey midsize Explorer to complement the fleet. Enter Mazda. Mazda designed and released the car-like Tribute for their own division, and a Ford version of the SUV, the Escape, was built by Ford in the US. Together, the vehicles have competed successfully against Toyota's RAV4 and Honda CR-V.
For 2006, the Ford/Mazda relationship really heats up with the release of three cars based on the highly touted Mazda 6 platform: the Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan, and the "near luxury" Lincoln Zephyr. All three sedans share similar components and borrow heavily from Ford's relationship with Mazda.
If you purchase a Ford or Mazda product that has in fact been rebadged will the Ford parts and the Mazda parts be the same? Good question! Major sections like the frame are likely to be the same, but many key components including suspension parts, brakes, and electrical parts, may be different. A better thing to do when purchasing replacement Ford or Mazda parts is to check your vehicle's owners manual or visit a reputable online store, such as Car Parts Stuff, for the right parts for your make and model. You may think you are getting the same parts, but you can only be certain if you verify that information.
Ford and Mazda have a relationship that appears to be mutually beneficial to the two automakers. Judging by the new products being offered, the relationship is certain to grow stronger in the coming years.
Matt Keegan is a contributing writer for Car Parts Stuff, an online supplier of high quality and well priced automobile parts. You can find out more about quality Ford parts or Mazda parts by visiting this site.