Mazda Motor Corp. named Masahiro Moro as its new president and CEO Friday. He once headed the company’s North American business unit and has been with the automaker for more than four decades.

Mazda named Masahiro Moro, left, its new president and CEO, replacing Akira Morumoto.

He will take over for current President and CEO Akira Marumoto in June, assuming the move is approved by shareholder and the board in June, according to Mazda. Marumoto, who will stay on in an advisery role, was named to the post in 2018.

Moro’s experience leading the North American market will come in handy, the soon-to-be-CEO noting during Friday’s press conference, “Our business in the United States is currently growing very strongly.”

The experience of U.S. executives is going to have even further impact in the future as Jeff Guyton, Mazda’s current North American chief, was nominated to be the company’s chief financial officer and assistant to the president. Guyton took on his current role in June 2021.

Moro will take over as CEO in June, assuming his appointment is approved.

U.S. is key to success

Mazda’s future growth is centered on the U.S., Moro telling the media Friday the company plans to upgrade its U.S. dealer stores in hopes of drawing more buyers. He said the company wants its 360 dealers to sell 1,000 vehicles annually, then once they accomplish that, “next would be to work to 1,200 units.”

The company is not only hoping to make its dealerships more appealing, but it is also expanding it physical presence in the U.S., recently opening the plant it operates jointly with Toyota in Huntsville, Alabama. The company is making its new CX-50 crossover at the facility.

However, despite this, the short-term expectations for the U.S. market is not rosy. The company forecast last month that it would sell 6% fewer cars in the United States and 48% fewer in China in the current financial year, setbacks that would be partly offset by higher expected sales in Japan.

Jeff Guyton, president and CEO of Mazda North America, was named CFO.

The company is in the process of expanding its U.S. line-up. Last year the CX-50 arrived, giving the brand a more rugged offering for U.S. buyers. It’s followed that now with the CX-90, its largest vehicle yet — and it comes with an optional plug-in hybrid powertrain. It replaces the CX-9. It will be followed by the CX-70.

Moving into the electrification era

Like many other Japanese automakers, Mazda is a bit late to the electrification party. However, it’s now investing $11 billion in a three-phase shift to electrification.

“We’ve talked about three phases of electrification for Mazda,” Guyton told in January. “We’ve announced an $11 billion investment. Phase one will be the plug-in hybrid. Phase two will be battery-electric models (off existing platforms). Phase three will bring a dedicated, skateboard-kind of architecture in the second half of the decade.”

Guyton said the company said its looking to grow its U.S. sales to 500,000 units in the future, up from 294,908 in 2022.

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