Mazda Motor Corp. says it will take a stake in Changan Ford Automobile Co. Ltd., the Chinese joint venture of Ford Motor Co. and Changan Automotive Group.

Mazda says it will take a 15% stake in the JV, acquiring the share from Ford, which now will hold just 35% of the company (Changan holds the remaining 50% stake).

As a result of Mazda’s investment the JV now will be known as Changan Ford Mazda Automobile Co. Ltd.

Production of the Mazda3 compact car began at Changan Ford’s plant in Chongqing on Feb. 27 and a plant currently is under construction in Nanjing that will build both Mazda and Ford models starting in 2007.

“We are pleased that Mazda’s investment in Changan Ford was completed smoothly,” says Kiyoshi Ozaki, director and senior managing executive officer in charge of Mazda’s China business strategy. “With this movement, the fundamentals of cooperation among Mazda, Ford and Changan will be further strengthened, and the progress of the three-party joint projects in Chongqing and Nanjing will surely be accelerated. Moreover, this will also expand the possibility of further cooperation among the partners,” he says.