Mazda denies considering East European plant

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TOKYO, Nov 2 (Reuters) Japan's Mazda Motor Corp denied a report on Friday that it was considering building a factory in Eastern Europe to meet burgeoning demand in the region, especially Russia.

''That's not under consideration,'' a Mazda spokeswoman in Tokyo said, noting the automaker had just announced plans for a new factory in Thailand with one-third owner Ford Motor Co The report came from an interview with Mazda Senior Managing Executive Officer Daniel Morris published in Automobilwoche, the German sister publication of industry journal Automotive News Europe.

''We are considering production in Eastern Europe but it is a very sensitive subject,'' Automotive News Europe quoted Morris as telling Automobilwoche.

Morris later told Reuters that he was ''misquoted'', confirming that no such plan was under immediate consideration.

''We're happy with our global capacity levels,'' he said.

Last month, Mazda announced plans to build a new 100,000 vehicles-a-year factory in Thailand with Ford in 2009 to supplement its stretched factories. The partners also recently started production at a new factory in Nanjing, China.

Morris said the new capacity in China would free up some space in Japan, where Mazda has also expanded capacity this year.

Automotive News Europe said strong demand in Eastern Europe meant Mazda's output capacity would soon reach its limits again, although it added that the automaker was placing greater priority on freshening up its product range over investing in new plants.

REUTERS SR RS1653

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