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Mazda nixes new-model expansion

Not now: The Mazda Premacy (known as Mazda5 in the US) has been ruled out for Australia in the short term.

Maxing out current models is Mazda’s priority, so no Mazda1 or CX-5 for now

Mazda logo12 Apr 2010

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

MAZDA has confirmed that it will not expand into new segments in the foreseeable future, ending speculation that a sub-Mazda2 city car or Subaru Forester-style compact SUV are under development.

This also eliminates the return of a dedicated people-mover to replace the defunct MPV in Australia, as the next-generation, seven-seater Mazda5/Premacy that goes on sale this year in Japan, Europe and America will be kept out of the country.

Speaking to the media in Melbourne earlier this month, Mazda’s head of global marketing, sales and customer service, Masazumi Wakayama, said the company was about the right size.

And while he said there was scope to explore new territories in future, Mazda would concentrate on delivering more efficient, economical and cleaner versions of its current line-up, beginning with the direct-injection Sky G petrol and Sky D diesel engines, as well as the Sky Drive six-speed automatic transmission.

“When we have product planning meetings, we look at the needs of the various regions around the world, and also we listen to the board and requests of our regional offices, and also involve journalists… to see where the growth is… and what sort of market the area of growth is in,” Mr Wakayama said.

“And then we continue to monitor what areas we are looking at.

“Our current line-up is (well suited) to our brand and scale of our company… so basically we do not have the concept of expanding into new segments.”

 center image Left: Mazda CX-7, Below: Mazda Kiyora Concept.

There had been rumours that Mazda was readying a sub-B segment compact that could take on the likes of the Hyundai i10 and Ford Ka, as well as the Fiat 500 and even BMW’s Mini, with the Kiyora concept car shown at the 2008 Paris motor show.

However, that vehicle was only ever a design exercise as well as a showcase of the upcoming Sky drivetrains – with the latter underlined by the Kiyora’s name, which is Japanese for ‘clean and pure’.

At the time Mazda described it as representing “… the harmony between driving pleasure and environmental and safety features”, as part of its long-term technology development vision, ‘Sustainable Zoom-Zoom’.

Meanwhile, reports from overseas suggested that Mazda had been well advanced on a sub-CX-7 compact SUV until the global financial crisis put a halt to the project.

Mazda Australia managing director Doug Dickson said the CX-7 had been repositioned with the recently released front-drive normally aspirated model to take on the Forester and Toyota RAV4 anyway, eliminating the need for a smaller and cheaper model to slot in underneath.

“At the moment they are all at the same segment,” he said.

Mazda’s larger SUV – the seven-seater CX-9 – is also one of the reasons why the third-generation Mazda5/Premacy unveiled earlier this year will not be brought into Australia.

“(The old Premacy segment) was quite hotly contested some years ago by the Holden’s Zafira, Hyundai (and others)... but the market really didn’t take off. It was always under pressure from the small segment and the compact SUV, so basically everybody has backed away from it," Mr Dickson said.

Mazda Australia marketing manager Alastair Doak said Mazda did reconsider the Mazda5/Premacy for release this year.

“We had a look at the market again in the lead up of this new Mazda5, and it confirmed yet again that the demand didn’t justify (the investment),” he said.

Mr Doak added that Mazda had a linear step-up progression of models covering a wide price range beginning with the Mazda2.

“How many new products can we offer,” he said.

“It is very strategic – Mazda2, Mazda3, Mazda6, CX-7 … if you look at our price point there is a very natural product plan placement.”

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