Mazda is Japan's #4 automaker, best known in the West for its sporty coupes although it also makes a broad range of other models. During the 1990s and early 2000s the company became increasingly intertwined with US giant Ford. The American car maker took effective control of its Japanese partner in 1996, and assisted in a complete restructuring of the business in 2000 in order to counter several years of slow and steady decline, especially in the domestic Japanese market. The overhaul paid off, resulting in strong sales growth, especially outside Japan, supported by its appealing "Zoom Zoom" marketing message. Ford slashed its shareholding in 2008, as it wrestled with problems of its own resulting from the global slowdown in automobile sales, although the two companies retain close ties and continue to work together. At the same time, Mazda struggled with its own serious challenges, resulting in four straight annual losses from 2009 to 2012. Performance has gradually improved since 2013.
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