By on May 10, 2011

Mazda may be free from its less-than-entirely-successful relationship with Ford, but when it comes to US production, Mazda is still very much stuck in its Ford-dependent past. B-Series pickup production has ended in St Paul, but Tribute is still built alongside Escape in Kansas City (for the moment), and the majority of Mazda’s US production is still accounted for by Mazda6, which is also built alongside Fords at the shared Flat Rock “Auto Alliance” plant. But AutoWeek‘s Hans Greiml reports that the Nikkan Kogyo newspaper believes Mazda could be looking to pull out from Flat Rock.

the Mazda6 is a big reason Mazda can’t turn a regional operating profit in North America–one of its most important markets.

The company planned to produce 100,000 Mazda6 units annually at the Flat Rock, Mich., plant, when the redesigned sedan was launched there in mid-2008. Then the financial crisis hit.

Last year the plant built only 45,168 units.

Mazda is cagey about what options it is mulling. If it quits producing the Mazda6, it could bring in another vehicle–or Mazda could quit the plant completely. Speculation abounds in Japan that Mazda is eyeing a new, lower cost North American production base in Mexico.

With the Tribute going out of production by the end of the year, Flat Rock would be Mazda’s last remaining US production facility. But while moving production from Flat Rock to Mexico might be a solid strategic move, it won’t change the Mazda6’s underperformance in the market. That’s going to take at least a “Mazda-rati” redesign. Hit the jump for a graph of Mazda’s midsized sales performance since 1995.
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65 Comments on “Will Mazda Abandon US Production?...”


  • avatar
    Derby129

    Not only is the asinine design language driving away sales but I know of several folks who did not re-up for another Mazda6 when the redesign did away with the hatchback and station wagon options.

    • 0 avatar
      colin42

      The old station wagon (for practicality) and the Hatch (coz you can’t get a 4 cylinder in the wagon) often figure in my replacement car thoughts.

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      Mazda was selling only 200 Mazda6 wagons a month, and the prior 6 was ≥50% fleet. I didn’t read any hatch figures, doubt they were much better.

      The US Mazda6 is now a different design than the global 6, either they would have had to federalize the smaller 6 wagon which didn’t sell, or gamble & make a US-only 6 wagon. They already sell about a two thousand each of the CX-7, CX-9, and slightly less of the Mazda5, so why bother with 1200 wagons that won’t result in any profit?

      • 0 avatar
        SecretAznMan

        You nailed it. Global economic slow down or not, the US Mazda6 was the wrong decision, and the sales show it. Had they stuck with a single model world-wide, there’d be more options in the US. Past performance is not always indicative of future performance. I predict a mini wagon boom in the future. CA may not be the best indicator, but Jetta Sportwagens and A3s are everywhere there.

    • 0 avatar
      HerrKaLeun

      Absolutely correct, without hatch/wagon they are competing with everyone (and mostly lose). I have a 2007 6-hatch (4 cyl, MT) and if it wouldn’t have been for the hatch (I wanted the wagon, but didn’t want the 6-cyl) I would have bought a Camry/Accord or whatever Sedan, likely not a Mazda 6 Sedan. If i needed a car int hat size now, Mazda wouldn’t be on my list for the fuel economy.

      I frequently buy 8’long 2×4 and can transport them in my hatch. 10’long CVPC pipe also works since it bends. No Sedan can match that. Put in a fuel sipping engine and the hatch/wagon will be the workhorse of many families as soon as we have 5-6$ gasoline. but Mazda tries to be sporty (WTF is zoom zoom… a bee??), no one who buys a Mazda actually really cares. What i care about is reliability (Mazda is good) and fuel economy and i don’t want to buy some stupid 17″ high performance tires for a lot of money.

      We also have a Japan built 2005 Mazda 3 hatch. I think the quality (driving, how firm it is etc.) of the Mazda 3 is better, but i didn’t have any real repairs with either car. The “6” seems to corrode less in WI winter, though.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    My 2007 MX5 is 100% made in Japan. Is Mazda going the way of Mitsubishi? Does anyone buy them anymore? I don’t notice them.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I would like to see Mazda pull production out of the USA and start to import their cars made from elsewhere. I recently rented a Mazda5 for a week to ferry people to/from the airport, and it was a thoroughly enjoyable little car, Made in Japan. OTOH, I know people who bought Mazda products made in the US of A who have said that they will not buy Mazda again. Mazda sales are pathetic in the US but that could be because many people associated them with doctored-up Fords, like Mercury was. And if they are against Ford, for whatever reason, they’re not going to buy a Ford-made Mazda. I say to Mazda, stop USA production and start importing more of your excellent products made elsewhere.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        The only Mazdas that are Ford carbon copies are the B series truck and the Tribute, both due to go out of production as their Ford donor models are scheduled for retirement.

        The US built Mazda6 shows good reliability based on the TrueDelta website. There is no reason why building a vehicle in the US vs. Japan would effect the overall reliability.

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    Mazda insists on building a performance oriented 6 when 90%+ of the midsize market clearly doesn’t buy performance oriented cars. Until they offer a true mainstream midsize car they will never be anything but a bit player in this huge segment. My girlfriend passed on a 6 after testdriving one because of the harsh ride (which I didn’t like as a passenger either) and bought a Malibu because of the soft ride and road isolation. She’s no different than the overwhelming majority of buyers in this segment.

    For whatever reason Mazda can’t seem to understand that fact.

    • 0 avatar
      colin42

      I disagree. Mazda should try to differentiate itself from everyone else as a way to compete – if they offered another blandmobile why would I ever consider them over Toyota!

      The biggest issue I have with Mazda is their really poor fuel consumption – hopefully the new engines will help with that but it’s late. The smiley look isn’t the best either but I’d over look that if the rest of the package stood out.

      What is interesting from the chart above is that the new 6 has not had better sales – even though it was designed for NA “tastes”

      • 0 avatar
        HalfMast

        I’m with colin42 here… if they dumb down their models, they have no differentation against the Japanese Big3, who have reliability and market dominance on their side, or against the Korean entrants who play on price. The Mazda3 and the CX-7 both managed to be good performance-oriented entrants into mainstream segments (if you ignore the smiley-face grill). I wasn’t as impressed with the 6, but if anything it’s because it was TOO main-stream and not enough performance, and build quality wasn’t nearly as good as the rest of their products. When you’re the “little guy” in a market, you have to have SOMETHING different than the big guys.

      • 0 avatar
        mtymsi

        What you are suggesting is exactly what Mazda is doing now with miserable results.

        What Mazda needs to do is offer a mainstream midsized car if they ever hope to have much greater sales numbers in the segment.

        They need a car viewed in the same light as a Camry, Accord, Fusion, Malibu, Sonata, Altima etc. to be considered by the buyers of those cars which is well over 90% of the midsize market.

        Mazda already has a firm grip on how to achieve low sales numbers with the current 6. They can either continue on the current path and be a perennial bit player in a huge segment or start offering a mainstream vehicle that will sell in much greater numbers.

        This isn’t rocket science, buyers in the midsize segment do not want and do not buy performance oriented cars by an overwhelming margin. That is why the current 6 sells in such small numbers.

      • 0 avatar
        SecretAznMan

        I couldn’t have said it better myself. If Mazda can remain viable with boutique numbers, then I have no problem with that. I don’t care if I don’t see my Mazda every 20ft. I care if I enjoy driving my Mazda. If it’s not worth driving, it’s not worth building!

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      I’m with colin42 and HalfMast. Sure, market share is desirable, but a company can be relatively small and still be profitable and successful.

      And the Mazda6 really isn’t all that “zoom-zoom”… more like “zoom.” Mazda shouldn’t abandon its sporty nature, and I think Slavuta’s response below is pretty good (comparing to Nissan Altima and commenting about dealer network).

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I will not buy car made in Mexico

  • avatar

    Mazda has bigger problems than where to build a car. Mazda, like Mitsubishi, Suzuki, Lincoln (and Mercury, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Plymouth, Isuzu, Saturn, et al) lacks an identity.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Mazda has an identity based on their ridiculous “smile”-styled cars.

      This is entirely self-inflicted, like the Acura beak and the Lincoln grilles.

      I have no sympathy for Mazda, and expect to see them exit the US sooner, rather than later. They abandoned Rotary Power, the one thing which made them unique, then got the idea that garish styling would make up the difference. Pure fail. Now, Mazda makes generic FF cars and adds ZERO value to the marketplace. Good riddance.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I’ll miss the Miata, but I won’t miss UAW built trasnplants.

      • 0 avatar
        cackalacka

        While I find the smile silly, the Acura beak is a whole ‘nother level of offensive. That little piece of aesthetics was designed, specifically, to allow middle-managers to look as menacing as possible while they tailgate you in the far right lane.

        The 3 and Miata are gorgeous cars. And remember, we essentially live in a world without Japanese hatchbacks or small roadsters.

  • avatar
    chris8017

    I own a 2011 Mazda6 with 6spd M.T and 2.5L motor. I get 32mpg in my typical driving (80% highway) at 70mph and the car has just under 4,000 miles on it. It gained a few mpg after break-in. I usually shift at 4000 RPMs and by no means do I drive for maximum fuel economy.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Mazda killed their Mazda6 with their own hands. At first they implanted it with transmission from Ford, which wouldn’t last more then 45k miles. Then, they made it Camry-like. 10 years of sustained c&@p will definitely drive customers away, may be forever. But in 2003 or so they again made a decent car. Not super reliable but a good driver and perfect for those with claustrophobia and who didn’t want to drive a boat. Today, I think, the Mazda6 is unattractive to many consumers because its fuel efficiency is lowest in the class. Besides, there is problem with dealer network. My brother doesn’t consider Mazda altogether because there is no dealer around and he services his car only @ the dealer. I bought Mazda nearest dealer is 30 minutes away. Small one. I had to go 1 hour away to get to the dealer with some selection.
    I don’t think Mazda6 troubles are with firm ride. After all, Altima sells like donuts. The styling on Mazda6 is questionable. Its no longer appeal to enthusiasts who don’t fan for big boats and it’s too risque for a common folk. Its practicality is low because of the fuel efficiency issue and weak dealer network. It doesn’t do anything outstanding and price is high. So… It leaves us with the car without purpose. Therefore, sales are weak.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Those are the exact sentiments I have heard from Ford-built Mazda owners I know. Scary thought is that these people are now looking at buying Hyundai or Kia in the future, or so they have said.

    • 0 avatar
      redrum

      The 6 has inferior EPA fuel economy numbers compared to its main rivals but I did notice it made a slight leap from 2010 (21-30/city-hwy) to 2011 (22-31/city-hwy)…unfortunately it’s probably too little, too late. I agree that the styling is too edgy for its segment (though I think the 3 is far tackier, but apparently buyers in that segment are OK with it).

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        Accord made 3mpg leap in the same year…

        The “3” styling is actually one of the best (IMHO). The smile is really ridiculous on pictures but not as bad in person. Besides the smile, it is pretty nice design.
        I think it is better designed then Forte, Corolla, Old Focus, Cruze, old Elantra, Elantra Touring, Impreza, 2012 Civic…
        2011 Civic is not better, just different. New Elantra – this is special case. If you look close enough, you’ll see that new Elantra is very close (if not the knock-off) to Mazda3 design. Only New Focus is better design and this is only because it has nice aggressive grill, not the mellow smile.
        But even with that, Mazda3 is still lagging sales big time. I think, previous generation did better.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      The dealer I went to was only 30 minutes away, but the selection was small. They didn’t even have an RX-8 or Miata in the showroom that I could sit in and drool. Ok, drool not good for seats. They just had the Mazda3, 5, and 6. They sold other manufacturers — Jaguar and Suburu — so space was limited.

      I am now a happy and proud owner of a 2010 Mazda 3, but for the options and trim I wanted, the dealer had to trade with another dealer over 100 miles away.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    If Mazda were smart, they would abandon US production. I can see a logical argument to relocate production to Mexico, the cost savings are substantial. No unions, no EPA, no OSHA, and shipping to Mexican and Central American markets is less also.

    As has been noted on this site, cars are built to statistically negligible assembly differences. With automated and high degrees of computer assisted human assembly becoming the norm, an individual’s performance has less impact on the final product. Why wouldn’t you move to facilities like that? Especially if your margin is already weak or non-existent?

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      There is a Mazda dealership in my area that sells a number of Jap-built Mazda vehicles each year, but sales of the US-built Mazda vehicles is negligible. Maybe people can spot a Ford-built Mazda and want to avoid owning a Ford by another name. I agree, Mazda would be well advised to stop production in the US and import their vehicles from made elsewhere.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        Maybe folks can spot a US-built Mazda VS a Japanese-built one, but isn’t the 6 the only US built Mazda car offered for sale here? I thought everything else (excepting the trucks) was built in Japan?

        I should have pointed out, it seems unlikely that Japanese production would be able to ramp up to meet even Mazda’s weak-ish demand, due to the earthquake. For some of the marginal players in this market (Mazda, Mitsu, Suzuki), the earthquake was a hammer blow to the chest.

      • 0 avatar
        mtymsi

        A Mazda 6 is U.S. built in a primarily Mazda owned Auto Alliance assembly plant which also builds the Mustang for Ford. The 6 is not built in a Ford assembly plant.

        The low sales are not a result of where the 6 is built, they are a reflection of the car itself.

        Using the assembly plant’s location as an excuse for the 6’s dismal sales does not explain the sales #’s of Malibu, Sonata, Accord & Altima all of which are also built in U.S. plants.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        Maybe folks can spot a US-built Mazda VS a Japanese-built one, but isn’t the 6 the only US built Mazda car offered for sale here?

        Correct. The CX-9 and Tribute are also built outside of Japan.

        A positive point to non-domestic Mazdas is that they don’t seem to be subject to the rust issues that plague the Japanese models.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        I have never owned foreign-brand vehicles until we bought my wife’s 2008 Jap-built Highlander Limited AWD, and then my 2011 Tundra SR5 DC 5.7 on January 12th, 2011. But I have learned from neighbors and friends that the foreign brands used to be excellent until they started making them inside the US. That’s why I advocate that ALL transplants should abandon their production in the US and import their products from made-elsewhere. This strategy is working for Ford, GM and Chrysler when they started producing in Mexico. They were rewarded with better quality and lowered operating expenses. And that meant greater profits!

    • 0 avatar
      HalfMast

      Though I don’t think they’ll do it, Mazda could also be successful opening an independent plant in non-Union US country. They could take a page out of the Honda playbook and make a flex-line that could build both Mazda6 or Mazda3 (and corresponding CX series products). It would give them some protection from the rising shipping costs from Japan, some leverage on tax negotiations, and a good marketing hook.

      Honda, Toyota, and Nissan have all built successful models based on locally assembled, Japanese-designed vehicles. But Mazda has to do it right, not just act as a parasite to another company’s dying plant.

  • avatar
    getacargetacheck

    Mazda should probably focus on the C-segment and smaller which is where the future is headed. Their fun-to-drive positioning is just right. US production probably doesn’t make sense. The Gen-X and Y buyers who love the Mazda3 would probably like it even better if it were slightly less expensive, something that Mexican production might make possible.

  • avatar
    FreezingD

    I owned a 2006 Mazda6 4cy for 2.5 years. The styling and price were what sold me. However, it was in the shop for warranty fixes more often and not. I got to know the service manager on a first name basis. Also, I was just NOT impressed with the overall build quality (hello UAW!!!), not in the least. It was replaced by an 09 Altima that I’ve put 52K trouble-free miles on.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Its sad if 6 goes, I drove one as rental some time ago and it was a fun car, but as mentioned the gas mileage seemed pretty bad. However as this chart shows: https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/05/april-sales-midsized-sedans/ the 6 is a loser so I understand why Mazda would move its production elsewhere. In fact I wouldn’t be shocked to see the 6 disappear entirely, it not on anyone’s radar. Nissan is now the “zoom zoom” brand with the Altima.

  • avatar
    200k-min

    Years ago wasn’t the Accord the mid sizer for a younger “performance minded” buyer while the Camry was the staid family hauler? Mazda’s Zoom-Zoom marketing seemed like it was trying to get Honda (and Subaru) buyers more than go after the masses. It was enough for a 20-something me to look back when the old Mazda 6 was new.

    The size and styling of that original 6 was decent enough, but the build quality was questionable at best. It felt flimsy compared to an equivalent Accord or Camry. The only real selling point was the MT paired with the V6. Then again, that’s not what’s going to sell 100k vehicles.

    Today Mazda doesn’t even get a passing consideration from me. Nothing they have is best in class. Even the celebrated 3 feels like it has lesser build quality than a comparable Civic. Most of their stable of vehicles are quirky (Mazda 5) or a Ford knock-off (Tribute) or over-run by the competition.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      What if I tell you that Mazda3 Surpasses Civic in all parameters including build quality? May be the only place where Civic is better is the seat velour vs Mazda3 cloth. But my Mazda3 is built to precision. And it feels Germanic vs Civic, which feels funky Korean. Mazda3 is amazing car. Not perfect but close to it.

      • 0 avatar
        Demetri

        The 3 can’t touch the Civic when it comes to NVH. It’s a much noisier car. It also hasn’t been able to match it in fuel economy, which will change for MY2012. The Civic was my #2 car when I bought my 3 in 2008. I would probably agree that the 3 exceeded the Civic in pretty much all the other areas not mentioned, but it was not by a lot, and I would have been happy with a Civic coupe. The biggest factor was price. At the time I was able to get a base 3 with AC for significantly less than a Civic LX.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        Demetri,

        you probably comparing different cars that I do. In my case I drove 2011 Civic EX vs Mazda3i Touring.
        The cars are extremely similar. Size and comfort, trunk…
        Civic has feel of spaciousness in front but that is only feel, because its windshield is so long. In reality Mazda3 has more volume.
        You have to note that because the tire size, weight, and other factors, different models (i.e. DX, LX…) feel differently. Somebody told me, “Civic is a better daily driver”. I didn’t notice it. EX vs iT – same. But iT has better seats. Excellent lumbar support. So NVH talk is your generalization. Reality is model by model. iT is quieter in my opinion and smoother. Civic was the harsher one. My 98 Protege definitely noisier then Civics of time. And when it comes to price and packaging the iT shines. It is cheaper. It doesn’t have worthless to me and rightfully optional sunroof and it has Blue-tooth and ESC, which EX lacks of.
        As far as gas mileage, again… Yes, Civic is better generally but again, I talk 5man vs 5man. Consumer Reports reported EX 5man avg 31mpg and 3iT 5man @ 30mpg. I do better then that on my particular car. 1 mpg is not big of the difference.
        So, I would say, apple to apple, 3iT vs Civiv EX is a pretty clean win by 3iT. Mazda3 may come with a smile and it is for good reasons. The Civic shortages are too many and on top a harsh price to pay.

  • avatar
    Darth Lefty

    The first generation 6 was a good looking car and the MazdaSpeed6 was the first car to make me look at trading in my ’02 WRX. But the new car is just an anonymous bore, the sort of thing parodied in Subaru’s “2011 Mediocrity” commercial. I’ve only been in a rental version so its interior might not be representative of type, but it was awful too.

  • avatar
    L'avventura

    Its obvious that Mazda is moving to Mexico, even Ford doesn’t build the Fusion (which uses the same CD3/GG platform) in the United States.

    Ford has already established a supply chain base south of the Border for that same car which Mazda can utilize. It was always odd that Mazda built the Mazda 6 in the US next to the Mustang when Ford themselves built that sister car in Mexico.

    More importantly, Mexico has a free trade agreement in BOTH North America and Japan. Which means that Mazda can export Mexican-made Mazda 6 cars back to Japan tariff free (as well as Brasil, which Mexico also has an FTA in place).

    Its a win-win for Mazda.

  • avatar

    I have always had a soft spot for Mazdas. Back in 04′ I had convinced my dad to purchase a mazda 3S sedan. While he thought the car was good value for the money and really enjoyed how the car handled considering its low price. The above mentioned Fuel economy, a Transmission failure @ 54,0000 miles and the massive amount of body rust by the fourth winter in MA has soured him to purchasing another Mazda. Too bad because I really like mazdas and hope that the company can succeed!

  • avatar
    obbop

    Toss in a free toaster, blender AND waffle cooker with the purchase of every new Mazda.

  • avatar
    Acubra

    Mazdas for the last 7 years or so (3-5-6 and CX family) feel way too tinny. Extremely thin outside sheetmetal panels. Cheap interiors.
    I was looking closely at a CX-7. But it does not impress with reliability and quality feel. CX-7 is not available with MT. Reliability seems to be very poor, despite it being proper “Nihon-sei” (made in Japan).
    On the other hand, I rented a Gen2 Mazda6 wagon in Europe and was VERY impressed how good it felt. One with a 2.5, MT and AWD (as is available in Japan) would really make me think seriously about it.

    • 0 avatar
      200k-min

      Mazdas for the last 7 years or so (3-5-6 and CX family) feel way too tinny. Extremely thin outside sheetmetal panels. Cheap interiors.

      My feelings exactly. Sit in a Mazda and then go sit in a comparable Toyota or Honda or even Hyundai. The Mazda “feels” cheap. First impressions are everything.

      Granted, I haven’t compared a 2011 Mazda 3 to a 2011 Civic, but mid-2000’s when I was doing such Mazda wasn’t a winner. My biggest gripe about vehicles in interior feel. My old stripped down 1990 Taurus GL had a nicer interior than a Taurus rental I had over a decade later, and that one was loaded up. Why? This isn’t progress.

      Right now I’m going through a similar experience trying to find a new vehicle with an improved interior over my Accord. Without going upmarket it’s hard to find modern vehicle interiors that outshine ones from a decade or more ago.

      Cheap interiors drive me crazy and Mazda is really good and making the interior seem flimsy. Spend an extra $500 on interior appointments, soft touch plastics, cloth or leather trims and triple sealed doors and I’d consider a Mazda again. Until then, no dice.

      • 0 avatar
        WheelMcCoy

        The 2010 Mazda3 interior has improved a lot and compares favorably to the Civic. This view is supported by personal experience as well as by auto journalists. The Mazda 3 was voted best in class. Give the recent models a second chance..

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    This morning I noticed all the new Sonatas around me. I remarked to myself what a success this car has been in the market. It is this car’s sporty appearance that seems to do the trick, coupled with Hyundai’s reputation for value. Both Hyundai and Kia have become the new “it” cars this year. Decades ago, the “it” cars were Honda and Toyota. Today, those brands are the status quo, along with the perennial also-ran, Nissan.

    So, I asked myself why is the Sonata successful, while the equally sporty looking Mazda6 is not. That got me to wondering why Mazda has had such a difficulty in the US market over the past 35 years.

    The suggestions above suggest that Mazda make the 6 look more like a dull Camry or Accord. They did that, and it didn’t work. The 626 was as dull as anything from Honda or Toyota, but remained invisible to shoppers. What they are doing now is working off of their decade-long sporty “zoom-zoom” image. Mazda has invested millions in this image campaign. The Mazda6 fits this perfectly.

    There is nothing wrong with the Mazda6. The was nothing wrong with the 626 either. There is really no apparent reason that Mazda has had so many problems here in the States in comparison to it’s market rivals.

    Hyundai and Kia have found success using a similar formula as had been successfully applied decades ago by Toyota and Honda. Subaru has found success as a niche player pulling in enough profits to stay viable. Mazda just hasn’t had the right combination to get out of the niche vehicle market. Everyone knows what a Miata is. Everyone knows what a Mazda3 is. Everyone knows what a Mazda6 is too, but not enough to change enough minds to buy one.

    It is quite a mystery. I wouldn’t want to be the guy trying to fix this problem.

  • avatar
    bodegabob

    Mazda lost me as a potential customer for the 6 when it became grossly oversized. The suspension is too stiff and the 4 cyl feels overburdened for something that feels as big as an Impala. Mazda is being punished for trying to keep everyone happy and failing.

    The answer for Mazda should be fewer sales and higher profit margins, exploiting the enthusiast market. If you want a dull car with a Japanese nameplate, get a Toyota or a Honda. Mazda should offer an alternative.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      As far as I remember, Mazda came out and said, it will surprise the American public with new Mazda6 and it will deliver class-leading fuel economy along…

      The surprise was unpleasant one and fuel economy was nowhere to find. Join the club.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    I’d love to see a graph of the past two decades of 323/Protege/Mazda3 sales in the US.

  • avatar
    Bytor

    I like Mazda. I have owned 2 of them (Miata, 323 Hatchback).

    The Mazda 3 does very well in Canada, often finishing as the second best selling car in the country! I think the three is much better car than the bland Civic/Corolla.

    But Mazda fell down on goofball pokemon face styling on it’s newer cars.

    IMO, Mazda need to killing the grinning idiot styling sooner, rather than later. Shinari looks like the way to go.

    But to break into midsize Mazda really needs something to stand out.

    They need to bring back the liftback, this alone would make be consider a 6 over any other midsize.

    They need some Sky Drivetrains to kick up the fuel economy.

    A well engineered Mazda 6, that is lighter, more economical, with Mazda driving dynamics, new Mazda Shinari styling and a liftback would be a winner. Will it overcome US market inertia? Probably not, but it would be a winner in other markets with less inertia, like Canada, and should at least stop the slide in the USA.

    I don’t care where it is built.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Ronnie Schreiber’s review of a Mazda 6 S Grand Touring (https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/02/review-mazda-6-s-grand-touring/) makes a lot of great points, and I happen to agree with all of them:

    “The Mazda 6 is an enigma. It’s a fine automobile, at least the equal of any car in its segment”

    “product may be everything, but sometimes it’s not enough”

    “part of the problem is the car’s name…the Accord and Civic brands help the overall Honda brand. Do 2, 3, 5, and 6 help Mazda?”

    “Good products…from good companies, are sometimes not marketed as well as they could be and may never achieve the success they could have had”

    “Ironically, maybe that sporting image, and Mazda’s “zoom-zoom” ad campaign is why the Mazda 6 is not considered by more families. This sounds like heresy from an enthusiast, but lets face it, the average car buyer is not an enthusiast”

    I’m far more educated than the average car buyer, and the Mazda brand continues to still spell “cheap sportiness” to me. They always strive to infuse a little Miata blood in everything they sell (except the Tribute); which is why when you’re talking inexpensive compact or midsize driver’s sedans, the first names that come to mind for me aren’t names at all, but numbers; 3 and 6. That zoom-zoom propaganda worked…maybe too well to allow Mazda to compete with the mainstream.

    • 0 avatar
      SupaMan

      That could explain BMW’s recent “Joy of Driving” marketing slang as opposed to the “Ultimate Driving Machine” they’re more widely known for.

      And this in order to appeal to a much broader audience whom BMW felt were alienated by their intense link to sporty cars.

      As an owner of a Mazda 6, I applaud Mazda’s sticking to their Zoom-Zoom philosophy. I may be in the minor enthusiast market that Mazda appeals to, but if I can avoid needing a larger CX-9 sized vehicle, another 6 is definitely on my short list of considerations.

      No other mid-sized car (save the Fusion) feels as sporty or connected to the road. Haven’t driven the new Kia Optima yet so we’ll see.

  • avatar

    Mazda’s image, such as it is, lies in reasonably-priced sporty cars. I would suggest that they replace the midsize-FWD-who-cares 6 with a RWD compact/midsize. The platform already exists – stretch the RX-8’s SE chassis – and sell it in the high-20s to mid-30s. There are currently no compact RWD 4-door sedans on the market below the 3-series in price. I think there’s a gap in the market for this car. It’s not a huge market, but Mazda isn’t a volume player anyway.

  • avatar
    Demetri

    I don’t know why the current 6 sells so poorly, but the sales drop coincides with the new model, which is a US only design. The next model is expected to be the same as the international model, like the first one which seemed to sell pretty well, and will be a bit smaller. Maybe that will help.

    Regarding some of the other posts; Mazda cannot be another Toyota or GM. They have to find a niche. Mazda has re-asserted that their purpose is to build cars are that are more fun to drive compared to other cars in the class. I’d like to think that they can be successful, but it won’t surprise me if they have to consolidate, at least on some level, with another manufacturer down the road. In some ways they already do. Their kei cars are rebadged Suzukis, and they still use Ford parts and platforms on a lot of their cars (which makes you wonder what’s going to happen now that Ford has dropped their stake in the company).

    They are addressing many of the concerns raised. Fuel economy is going to be increased substantially across the board, as every model in the lineup is going to get a Sky drivetrain. The much derided Nagare design language is finished; all new models will be on a new design.

    Rotary power was a dead end that cost them a lot of money and didn’t get them much in return. Yeah, it was cool and unique, but there were too many drawbacks. There’s a reason why they extended the warranty on all rotary engine components in the RX-8 to 8 years.

    I think they’re heading in the right direction, but we’ll see. I’d like to see them come out with a fun to drive EV. That doesn’t seem to be in the cards for the near future, which is fine; there’s plenty of time for that. I’d also like to see some more 2-door cars in the lineup, especially if they’re going to be the sporty brand. The 2 has a 2-door version; it just isn’t offered in the US. A coupe based on the Miata, FT-86 style, would also be a good addition.

    • 0 avatar
      swordfysh

      “A coupe based on the Miata, FT-86 style, would also be a good addition.”

      Oh god, speaking of which, bring back the MX-3. A cheap and lightweight 2-door coupe with 4 seats, a unique and timeless styling with the shape of a late 1980s RX-7 but with the roundness of the Miata and a large liftback glass hatch with enough seating, space and visibility to put the Honda CR-Z to shame. Heck, if they bring it back but don’t want the 2-door vehicle stigma, just make it 4-door using the same suicide door trick as the RX-8; Mazda could be on to something that can revive this dead-but-once-great segment, now run over by Honda Elements, boxy Scions and Nissan Cubes.

      If touching on a niche is Mazda’s strong point, something like this isn’t hard to do. Make it roughly the same weight as a Mazda 2, cheaper than a Miata and let the MAZDASPEED division come up with interesting aftermarket enhancement ideas. You’ll have an affordable econosport that’s not as expensive as an RX-7/8, is more practical than a Miata and lets people mod it, tune it and otherwise rev the nuts out of it based on how much they have in their own wallet. Then 5-10 years later, redesign it as an EV with a rotary as the gasoline backup generator and you’ve got the essence of a young and spirited fun-to-drive vehicle that Mazda is known for.

  • avatar
    mazder3

    Rather than abandoning US production, why not produce the 3 here? At least that sells!

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    All of you have bit on this. Don’t believe it for an instant. No transplant is going away in America for the forseeable future. Japan is so screwed up right now that it’s a very good possibilty that there will be production runs that will be heading towards Japan.

    Wouldn’t it be a kick in the teeth if there are cars built in the US unavailable for sale in the US?

  • avatar
    Snavehtrebor

    My 2004 6S 5M has been bulletproof for 80,000 miles now- more reliable than my previous Mazdas and Toyotas built in Japan. I agree with the others here; I have no interest in the current model because it’s too big, doesn’t offer a manual w/the V6, and the size/styling is too me-tooish, trying to compete with the Camcordata. Sales dropped because buyers of the first gen 6 didn’t and don’t like the new model, and they were never going to steal more than 30,000 appliance buyers from the big boys.

    If the next gen offers the same blend of sporty styling & driving dynamics, and slightly smaller size compared to the herd, I will buy one immediately.

  • avatar
    silverkris

    The crux of the matter is Mazda somehow hasn’t found its niche or identity in terms of positioning its vehicles successfully. That has resulted in rather middling sales figures…which is threatening its viability as a player in the North American car market. Where it is produced is a secondary issue.

    Sure, they can move assembly to Mexico as a way to save some change, though in the short term they may incur some costs. But that by itself isn’t going to help them.

  • avatar
    plee

    My son bought a new 03 Mazda 6 with V6 5speed when he graduated from law school. It now has 185,000 miles with few repairs other than routine maintenance, it even has the original clutch. He has started looking around at late model Fusion or Mazda 6 but disappointed that neither offers a V6 manual. I am trying to get him to drive a 4 cyl manual but he is skeptical that he will like one of those.

  • avatar

    I also see very little point in the 6 – it has nothing to make it stand out, the styling is bizarre, and only heavy discounting gets it off the showroom floor. It exhibits nothing of the Mazda spirit we see in our 3 and Miata. Mazda has lost it here.

    Keep in mind that Mazda is not dropping the 6. And that the current 6 uses a variety of Ford parts (look at the Ford logo on the brake calipers, for one). And that the it’s Fusion cousin is going to a different platform soon, so those parts will go away. Mazda’s statements here reflect the product lifecycle and the costs of sharing a plant with Ford, nothing more.

    The new 6 should be based on Shinari styling, and offer an upmarket touring option with the MazdaSpeed3 engine. Yes, I know the prior MazdaSpeed6 was a near miss, but it was more because of the lackluster styling and tight size than it was because of the engine. In fact, the engine and AWD drivetrain worked very well and was quick without any torque steer. With excellent highway mileage (even over 30), it out-did Ford’s own EcoBoost-4 many years earlier (something that one of the EcoBoost engineers took note of in an interview a few years ago). Mazda put a lot of engineering work into that car, with extra welding, strategic bracing, and even a limited slip rear diff (when most AWD cars use open diffs). It was ahead of it’s time, a modern interpretation of this same idea would make great competition to several other vehicles, each of which is currently far-outselling the 6.

    -Jeff
    DrivingEnthusiast.net

  • avatar
    Tiberianx

    I still drive the 1996 Mazda 626 ES V6 (Fully loaded model). VIN built from FlatRock Michigan in 1995. The back row floor mats and leather seats still looks almost new and I’m amazed that no signs of rust on the body of the car still. So far its only had 170k miles on it, never replaced or rebuilt the engine and Ford transmission. I know it could still run for another few more years HAHAHA.

    The car had pretty good handling on the steering wheel I must say, but if you put a lot of passenger or cargo weight in it, you could feel it in the steering wheel and I don’t know if that’s normal on most vehicles.

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