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LA show: Mazda passenger cars to stay

Vision quest: The Vision Coupe concept previews the next-generation Mazda6 mid-size passenger car.

Global push to SUVs won’t alter Mazda’s commitment to passenger cars

Mazda logo3 Dec 2018

By TIM NICHOLSON in LOS ANGELES

MAZDA Motor Corporation (MMC) says it remains committed to offering traditional passenger cars for the foreseeable future, despite some of its rivals pulling out of the market to focus on increasingly popular SUV and pick-up models.
 
The Japanese car-maker offers four passenger models globally, the Mazda2 light hatch, Mazda6 mid-sizer, MX-5 sportscar and Mazda3 small car which was just revealed this week in fourth-generation guise.
 
When pressed by GoAuto if Mazda was committed to offering future versions of passenger models, specifically the Mazda2, MMC managing executive officer and head of design and brand style Ikuo Maeda said:
 
“I can’t share much detail on this topic. But what we are not going to do is cut off the passenger cars,” he told Australian journalists at the Los Angeles motor show. 
 
“Of course volumes of SUV is getting bigger and we are going to focus on the SUV segment, but we think passenger cars are still important for us so we will keep focusing on them.”
 
In Australia, Mazda has increased its SUV focus with the introduction in the past few years of the CX-3 crossover and CX-8 large diesel SUV.
 
Of Mazda’s 94,246 Australian sales to the end of October this year, passenger cars make up about 42 per cent of overall volume, with SUVs on 47 per cent and the rest going to the BT-50 pick-up.
 
Ten years ago in 2008, passenger cars made up 75 per cent of Mazda’s year-end sales.
 
MMC president and CEO Akira Marumoto said the company was looking at more SUV/crossover models, but added that he saw opportunity for passenger cars – particularly at the lower end – to act as an entry point for new buyers coming into the Mazda brand.
 
“We are quite aware that global demand of C-(segment) cars is declining,” he said. “However, the biggest automotive market is China and their C share is increasing. Where C car is declining most is the US, Canada and Australia. However C car is an entry car, first-time buyers tend to buy C car. That is true in the US, Canada and Australia. 
 
“So those young first-car buyers, we want them to experience the Mazda brand, then they will get to like Mazda and buy Mazda again. That is what we want to do first. That’s why Mazda3 was the first batter in the series of new generation products.
 
“I do not negate the possibility of crossovers. And of course we are studying what kind of crossover is more suitable for Mazda because crossover has many varieties.”
 
Meanwhile, Mr Maeda said the next-generation CX-3 would be further separated from the Mazda2 hatch on which it is based, using unique dash and interior elements unlike the current model that borrows much of its cabin from the 2.
 
“It’s difficult for me to comment on what we are going to do for the next product, but I think it is better not to commonise any parts with other models. And I think that it was not a good idea to apply the parts of a lower segment vehicle (Mazda2) to a higher segment vehicle (CX-3).”
 
He also said he was working towards ensuring that the next-generation Mazda6 – due sometime after 2020 – will feature a design that is in keeping with the striking Vision Coupe concept from last year’s Tokyo motor show.
 
“The size or proportions may be different, but I’d like to have a similar image as close as possible for that one.”

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