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LA show: Mid-size segment not dead: Mazda

Sedan plan: The current Mazda6 has jut been refreshed and Mazda’s US boss says sedans could make a comeback.

Mazda US boss predicts eventual comeback for sedans as company banks on Mazda6

Mazda logo5 Dec 2017

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in Los Angeles

THE head of Mazda’s North American arm says he is confident that there is still life in the mid-size sedan segment, and more than enough buyers for the company to plan a successor to the current-generation Mazda6 range.

Speaking to Australian journalists at the global premiere of the Mazda6 facelift in Los Angeles last week, Mazda North American Operations president and CEO, Masahiro Moro, said he believed that passenger cars, and sedans in particular, would rally as consumers grow weary of SUVs.

“I have some doubt about sedan (segment) not being valid to anybody anymore,” he revealed. “I don’t think that is so. In the next few years, in the USA at least, the crossover will continue to gain momentum. But in some future point, the trend will change. It is kind of a cyclic thing.

“Today the C/D-size sedan segment (in North America alone) is still two million units. It is one of the biggest, and a big consideration for heartland USA.”

According to Mr Moro, the glut of sedans on the used-car market in the wake of the global financial crisis that began late last decade helped drive consumers towards SUVs, but now the reverse may be true moving forward as passenger cars overall are being overtaken by crossovers.

“I think this correlates to how the second-hand or used market HAS developed,” he said.

Mr Moro added that the current-generation Mazda6 launched as a 2013 model has consistently performed more strongly in North America than its predecessor from 2008 to 2012 as a result of Mazda’s ‘walk-up’ model strategy.

A key product planning priority when the existing ‘SkyActiv’ range of new-generation passenger cars and SUVs were developed after the Ford Motor Company divested its shares in the Hiroshima company a decade ago, this encourages consumers to stay within the brand as their automotive needs change through life.

For buyers seeking to move upmarket, the company hopes that the new Mazda6’s adoption of premium design, quality, engineering and technology will be enough to keep them in-house.

“This Mazda6 which we introduced as a 2013 model has built up a decent customer base,” Mr Moro explained.

“In the past, we targeted the particular competitive models like the Honda Accord, but the latest version we set it up to be ‘entirely showroom right’ that means we know what the Mazda3 looks like, what the Mazda6 looks like, what the CX-5 looks like, so the customer can transit from A to B and from B to C (without leaving the brand).

“This has been our new corporate strategy, so when customers step into Mazda, to choose a mid-size sedan the Mazda6 is the right one. And I believe with the upgrade, we really have a great chance to really push Mazda6 sales a little higher, so we can transition into the next (generation series).

“With the Mazda6 – and I hate saying this – we were called ‘the best kept secret in the (medium) segment’. Our job is to bring the new Mazda6 to the target audience, and this is going to be a big marketing challenge.”

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