By on May 18, 2017

2016 Mazda2, Image: Mazda

It was January of 2015 and I was standing in a small venue in Montreal. The space was dark save some access lighting and red spotlights pointed at a sheet-covered car.

A few moments later, the sheet was pulled off, and Mazda Canada announced the 2016 Mazda 2 would be coming to The Great White North.

Eleven months later, Mazda Canada would reverse that decision, citing other all-new products — namely the CX-3 and MX-5 — requiring Mazda’s full attention. After all, the small automaker didn’t want to spread itself too thin, and it wasn’t like the previous-generation Mazda 2 set the sales charts on fire — on either side of the border.

In America, Mazda North America Operations had zero intention of selling the subcompact in any region other than Puerto Rico. Yet, year after year since the model went on sale in other global markets, Mazda continues to certify the Mazda 2’s emissions system with the California Air Resources Board, effectively making it eligible for retail sale in any of the 13 “CARB states” and District of Columbia.

Meanwhile, Mazda says it still has no intention to sell the Mazda 2 in America. What’s going on? We reached out to Mazda to get an answer.

The CARB certification process requires automakers to prove its emissions systems for every model, engine, and transmission combination comply with emissions regulations as set out by the State of California.

Mazda applying for and receiving a CARB certification for the Mazda 2 would make sense if Puerto Rico were a CARB region, but it isn’t, so there goes that theory.

Does that mean the Mazda 2 might come back to America?

“The Mazda2 will not be sold in the U.S., as there are markets better-served by that offering such as Puerto Rico and Mexico,” said Mazda product communications specialist Jacob Brown. “Mazda is in a different place in terms of market positioning as we shift our focus as a brand in the U.S.”

There goes theory No.2.

But there still must be a reason for Mazda continually certifying the Mazda 2. That process isn’t free. Thankfully, Brown was more than willing to explain, and the answer exists in Mazda’s partnership with Toyota to provide the Mazda 2-based Yaris iA.

“Under our partnership with Toyota, we agreed to certify the small car,” Brown explained before getting into the specifics of platform sharing.

The process works thusly: Mazda certifies the Mazda 2 with CARB, then Toyota shows up at CARB’s door and basically says, “Our car is the same as their car,” since Mazda cannot submit paperwork on behalf of Toyota.

Dan Ryan, Mazda’s vice president of government affairs, explained the process more thoroughly.

“Typically in situations like this, one of the companies agrees to handle the certification for emissions and safety. It is usually the company that had the lead in development. As another example, when we submitted safety information on the Tribute, we referred NHTSA to the Ford Escape data.”

So, our subcompact Mazda dreams are dashed and this is all just paperwork. That’s probably for the best.

[Image: Mazda]

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37 Comments on “Mazda Keeps Certifying the Mazda 2 with CARB, But Why?...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    So Mazda gives Toyota a handy for Toyota buying all those subcompacts?

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    That sucks – a 2 hatchback might just be the perfect subcompact car.

  • avatar
    jh26036

    Perfect at what?

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Drive a Toyota Yaris iA (a 2 sedan with an ugly nosepiece grafted on) and you’ll find out. Best subcompact you can buy. Adding a hatchback and putting a Mazda front end on it would make it about perfect, as subcompacts go.

      • 0 avatar
        jh26036

        I guess when you go up against the likelihood of a Chevy Spark or Kia equivalent, nothing could be worse.

        Part of the problem with offering a car like this is it’ll probably end up being fairly close in price with a Mazda 3 and people would just buy one of those instead. This is kind of like the Ford Ranger/F150 effect.

        • 0 avatar
          ...m...

          …the three drives like a boat by comparison, but you’re probably correct that most folks would prefer the insulation and space a heavier car affords them…

          …my own counterpoint, for what it’s worth, was walking into the dealership fully intending to buy a ‘speed three, but driving out with a two after test-driving them back-to-back: not much else with comparable utility feels as nimble…

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Modern subcompacts – and I’m talking about the Yaris iA, Honda Fit, Hyundai Accent, Ford Fiesta, etc – have plenty of good stuff going for ’em, jh26036. The iA was good enough that it made my personal final cut last fall against a VW Golf, Honda Civic (and the Jetta I ended up buying after the Golf deal fell through). It’s more than livable.

          The Spark ain’t half bad to drive either.

          • 0 avatar
            jh26036

            Don’t get me wrong, I am a small car guy at heart but I’ve had my experiences one way or another (rentals) in an Accent, Yaris, Spark, Mirage, old Mazda 2, and new/old Fits. They are “ok”. Besides the Fiesta ST, these little tikes are mostly forgettable and would not buy unless I have a very tight urban parking spot that requires me to. I can’t believe you think the Spark is a decent drive, ugh, that thing is right with the Yaris/Mirage (dismal). The Fit was probably the standout mostly because it felt less cheap.

            *disclaimer, I’ve only experienced these things in automatic flavor.

  • avatar
    neit_jnf

    Mazda sells the Mazda2 hatch in Puerto Rico and Toyota the Mazda2 sedan as a Yaris.

    Being a US territory Puerto Rico is under Federal Law and cars need to meet the same laws and regulations as any other state to be sold here.

    http://www.mazdapr.com/mazda-2/

    Good news is if you really want a Mazda2 hatch you can legally buy it in PR and ship it to any state.

    And yes, I wrote this comment before reading the whole thing… ha!

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Today on Mazdahate.com.

    • 0 avatar

      No hate here. I’d love to have a Mazda 2 and it’s unfortunate that we don’t get it in North America, but I thoroughly understand why we don’t get it here and I’m okay with that.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I’m being facetious, I know yourself and the staff do not hold any one brand in contempt. Some of the commentators though tend to, hence the remark. This was touched on yesterday: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2017/05/qotd-what-to-do-with-mazda/#comment-9279104

      • 0 avatar
        Garrett

        You could make the argument that Puerto Rico isn’t in “North America” due to it being an island, although it does happen to be within the southern and eastern limits of what we consider North America to be.

        Mexico is definitely part of North America, hence the NA in NAFTA.

        Stating that the Mazda 2 isn’t available in the continental United States would be accurate, as would stating that it is unavailable in the 48 contiguous states. You could even state that it is not available in any state. All would be accurate.

        The car is definitely available in North America, and it is definitely available in the United States of America.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          “North America, the planet’s 3rd largest continent, includes (23) countries and dozens of possessions and territories. It contains all Caribbean and Central America countries, Bermuda, Canada, Mexico, the United States of America, as well as Greenland – the world’s largest island.”

          http://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/na.htm

        • 0 avatar

          I should have said “North American market,” which is generally agreed to encompass the United States and Canada but only sometimes Mexico. The latter gets lumped in with the “Latin American market” more often than not.

  • avatar
    dangit56

    Build it and we will come, and we will buy it, and we will first drive it to Ziebart for lifetime rustproofing.

  • avatar
    threeer

    One of my favorite rentals (I work for the gov…we aren’t allowed to rent anything above “poverty-spec” compact)…made me really want to test-drive a manual variant. I think it’d make a fun commuter with just a hint of practicality. But we’re not the market for such offerings.

  • avatar
    neit_jnf

    I’d love an AWD 1.5 Diesel Manual Mazda 2

  • avatar
    Middle-Aged Miata Man

    “They certify it for Toyota,” was my very first thought upon reading the headline.

    As someone who makes his living by word counts, I applaud Mark’s ability to eck out 500+ in reaching the same conclusion.

    • 0 avatar

      I figured that was it too, but I was looking for an explanation as to why certs exist for both cars. The Toyota has its own certification, so I didn’t think one for the Mazda was necessary. It seems to me it isn’t necessary, but it makes the task easier for Mazda and Toyota.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I’ve been wondering why the Mazda2 continues to have a space on the EPA’s fueleconomy.gov website.

    The correct answer is “Puerto Rico”. Thank you!

  • avatar
    newenthusiast

    This basically means that you can get a Mazda 2 shipped to anywhere in the US.

    All 4 of my grandparents were born in Puerto Rico and came over to work in the PA steel mills the post WWII boom. I have had many relatives move back and forth from the mainland and PR and move household goods, including cars.

    There are no additional customs, safety, or emissions requirements to register a car from PR in any other US state or territory, since they already meet NHTSA and EPA standards.

    Making it CARB certified makes sense in this context.

    As for our Canadian friends, given that the Mazda 2 legally can come to the mainland US (you can ship to ports in Jacksonville, Fl and Pennsauken, NJ, and then do truck transport to everywhere else in the US except Hawaii…another ship, obviously), I assume that as long as you followed the process put in place by Canada to import a car from the US, there should be no issue.

    I ran one quote to ship a 2107 Toyota Yaris from San Juan to Pennsauken, and including all fees and taxes, it was a little over $1200 USD. A Canadian citizen could either have it transported north or come on down to Pennsauken and drive it back on a pretty nice road trip through PA and NY, maybe even NJ and New England depending on where you cross the border. Lots of off-interstate routes to enjoy as a driver.

    I have no idea if that’s worth it just to acquire a Mazda2/Toyota Yaris iA. But if you REALLY are interested, I hope this is useful.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      No, it’s not worth it, especially when you can go to a Toyota dealer and buy one (albeit with a trunk and the awful front end treatment). But it’s interesting info.

      • 0 avatar
        newenthusiast

        I was under the impression that the Yaris sedan and the Yaris hatch (aka Mazda 2/Demio) are actually different vehicles underneath, despite the shared name. Is this incorrect?

        Anyway, I’m talking about anyone who REALLY wants the hatch, come hell or high water.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          They are different vehicles. I was referring to the Yaris iA, which is a Mazda 2 sedan with a different nose. The Yaris hatchback is a “homegrown” Toyota product, and it sucks.

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      We get the Mazda Yaris Sedan minus the iA here

  • avatar
    namstrap

    I’m in Canada, and I’ve seen lots of these on the roads. Most have rental stickers on the back bumper.

  • avatar
    scott25

    Still angry about Mazda not selling the 2 here, it’s a great looking car with an amazing interior. Was looking forward to buying one for over a year, then got let down. Luckily for Mazda I ended up buying a 3 anyway, but my girlfriend also wants something exactly like a 2 hatch and will probably end up getting a Fiesta in its absence. We are both anti-sedan and probably always will be, don’t really see the point of them existing, so even though the Yaris Sedan is a good deal its trunk and awkward styling are a deal breaker. The Fiesta wins otherwise for her since it’s available in Mint Green, is reasonably fun to drive, and she prefers it over the Spark (despite the Spark being literally dirt cheap and a pretty good car for what it is, especially compared to the Aveo/Wave, I’m just worried about her hitting a deer in it).

    I imagine not bringing over the 2 sold a lot of slightly higher-margin 3s among the thrifty Mazda faithful, but as to their original reasoning, I doubt anyone could afford to cross shop the 2 and CX3. The CX3 is even a stretch compared to a low-trim 3.

  • avatar
    zoomzoomfan

    I’m waiting for someone to buy a Yaris iA and put Mazda2 front end parts on it. I’m surprised it hasn’t been done yet. The nose of the iA is just awful.

    Theoretically, just how hard would it be to buy a Mazda2 in Puerto Rico and ship it to the U.S.? Expensive, sure. But is it legal? I assume so. And would the warranty be honored at a Mazda dealer here? I figure parts wouldn’t be an issue, since the Yaris iA is the same car mechanically. Interesting.

  • avatar
    Promit

    We own a Mazda 2 from when they were launched in the US. Gas was temporarily expensive, everyone thought the B segment was going to be the big thing, and Mazda had ruined most of their cars with the horrors of the Joker grin. Except for some crazy reason, it works great on the 2, where it looks happy rather than psycho. There was no such thing as a Fiesta ST back then, and the Fit was the thing if you wanted to have C segment space in a subcompact but kinda sucked to drive. The Fiesta was worse in every way and it was downhill from there.

    Five years later, we’re not sure what to do. A “loaded” Mazda2 didn’t have stuff like… Bluetooth. Starting to miss some of the features we take for granted now, but the subcompact market is kinda trash. Only the FiST really offers a comparable driving experience and it’s more expensive than the FoST for some insane reason.

  • avatar
    cls12vg30

    Judging by the comments, I must be weird.

    I rented a Mazda2 for a week in Southern California in December of ’15. I enjoyed the lightness and handling during my brief foray into the Orange County canyons, but it was such a noisy rattletrap, especially out on the freeway, it was almost alarming. My brother’s 2010 Yaris feels about the same, but I know that’s a universally-hated car around here.

    My experience with my wife’s 2015 Fiat 500 Sport is the polar opposite. It still has nearly perfect tiny car handling, but is much quieter and more comfortable at highway speeds. I think that’s why the tin-can feeling of the Mazda surprised me so much. The Fiat feels downright refined by comparison, which is a statement that still hurts my brain on some level. The 500 was about $16k in the summer of 2015, so a bit pricier than a 2, but after my initial skepticism that little Fiat completely won me over. Two years later and it’s still by far my wife’s favorite car she’s ever owned.

    Hell I wouldn’t mind one with a manual myself (hers is an auto), but we’ve got to have at least one vehicle with more space, so a few months after she got the Fiat I grabbed a Jeep Renegade with the 500 Abarth’s turbo motor and a six-speed, and it’s still my second-favorite car I’ve ever owned.

    Yup, I’m definitely weird.


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