Production of Mazda Motor Corp.’s Mazda3 compact car begins at the Changan Ford Automobile Co. joint venture plant in Chongqing, China

The JV between Mazda, Changan Automotive Group and Ford Motor Co. held a Job One ceremony Feb. 27 at the plant.

The Mazda3 goes on sale in China in late March, when pricing and product details will be announced.

The vehicle will be sold in China via FAW Mazda Motor Sales Co. Ltd., a JV established by Mazda with First Auto Works Group in March 2005.

Some 133,778 Mazda-brand vehicles were sold in China last year, a 51% increase from prior year. Mazda expects 2006 China sales to better the 2005 tally by more than 10%.

Mazda wants to sell 300,000 units per year in China by 2010. A new JV with Ford and Changan in Nanjing, set to open in 2007, initially will build 160,000 Ford and Mazda-brand vehicles annually.