Mazda has commemorated the start of the production of the new Mazda6, fully redesigned for the first time in five years.
The ceremony took place at the company's Hofu Plant No 2, in Yamaguchi prefecture, in Japan.
Approximately 500 people gathered for the celebration, including Mazda's representative director and chairman of the board, president and CEO, Takashi Yamanouchi, executives, employees and a representative of the Mazda Workers Union.
The first vehicle to come off the line was a Mazda6 station wagon built to European specifications and powered by the new SkyActiv-G 2.0 petrol engine.
In his speech, Yamanouchi commented: "I am deeply moved that production of the third generation Mazda6, the flagship model of our new-generation vehicles, starts in such an important year for us.
"It is the 30th anniversary of the start of operations here in the Nishinoura district of the Hofu Plant and the 10th anniversary of the start of production of the first-generation Mazda6, back in 2002.
"That first Mazda6 debuted as an embodiment of Mazda's brand message, Zoom-Zoom, and its success led to great improvement in our brand image."
The all-new Mazda6 is the first model to be equipped with Mazda's unique brake energy regeneration system, i-ELOOP.
In all areas the development team tried to instil the essence of the Mazda brand, the joy of nimble handling that responds precisely to the driver's intentions, while offering the class, style, quality and comfort people expect from a car in the CD segment.
The new Mazda6 will be introduced to Europe and Japan before the end of this year, followed by other markets including Australia and New Zealand at the beginning of 2013.
Mazda is planning to produce about 120,000 units of the Mazda6 a year at the Hofu Plant.
The company will premiere the new Mazda6 sedan with Russian specifications at the Moscow International Automobile Salon 2012, which opens on August 29 and runs for three days.