September 2014 Sales: CX-5 Tops Mazda USA Sales Charts

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

In September 2014, for the third time ever and the third time this year, the Mazda CX-5 outsold the Mazda 3 in the United States.

The difference was minimal: just 238 units in September compared with a CX-5-favouring 2067 units in February and 1319 in March. Year-to-date, the 3 leads the CX-5 by just 2069 units.

Together, they account for 65.8% of Mazda USA’s volume over the course of the last nine months, up slightly from 64.5% at this point a year ago.

While the U.S. sales gap between the two cars is narrow, the CX-5 and 3 are travelling in opposite directions on the same highway. After hitting record highs in 2012, sales of the 3 declined 15% in 2013. Through the first nine months of 2014, year-over-year volume 3 sales are down 2% in 2014. Q3 sales slid 3%.

It’s not as though America’s auto industry is regaining strength through compact cars – sales in the category are only slightly better than level this year and rose less than 1% in September – but the 3 is underperforming compared with key rivals. As accepted as the 3 is by the automotive press, its true rivals on volume terms aren’t big-name players like the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, and Chevrolet Cruze but rather lower-tier cars like the Volkswagen Jetta (down 7% to 115,055 this year), Subaru Impreza (up 7% to 64,329), and Dodge Dart (down 8% to 60,763). 3 sales are down 2% to 80,259 over the last nine months.

The CX-5, on the other hand, is growing at an above-average pace in the small crossover battle led by the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, and Toyota RAV4. Combined sales of that trio are up 9% this year while CX-5 sales are up 29%. Keep in mind, the surging RAV4 (up 26% in 2014) sells more than twice as often as the CX-5; the stagnant Escape sells nearly three times more often, and the CR-V sells more than three times as often.

But the CX-5 is central to Mazda’s expansion. The brand is a truly low-volume player in the United States. We’ve examined its market share at TTAC in the past, which is akin to the share of the market owned by BMW. But Mazda USA volume is up 9% in 2014, a faster rate of growth than that which has been achieved by the overall industry.

It’s not down to the 3. The unique-among-minivans 5 is surely not responsible for growing the brand. 2 sales are up 40% this year, a gain of 3628 units. 6 sales are up 29%, equal to a 9328-unit improvement. (Mazda says the 6 set a record for September sales last month, but they didn’t mean an all-time record. 6 sales in September 2005 were 1% higher; 6 sales in September 2004 were 26% higher. The 6 currently owns slightly more than 2% of America’s midsize market.) The CX-9 has aged, and sales are down 31% this year. As we approach its replacement, MX-5 sales are down 20%, year-over-year, after falling 66% between 2006 and 2013.

If the 3 can’t perk up, the responsibility pressed down on the CX-5’s shoulders will only gain weight. CX-5 volume has grown by 17,522 units to 78,190 in 2014. Only once in 20 monthly tries have CX-5 sales decreased on a year-over-year basis, and that drop was valued at just 5% in the market’s lowest-volume month this year, January.

Exclude the small crossover from Mazda’s lineup and 2014 YTD sales are up just 1.8%, rather than 9.3%. Remove the CX-5 from the equation in September, when it topped the Mazda sales charts, and sales would have decreased 1.9% rather than increasing 6.7%.

Timothy Cain
Timothy Cain

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  • Jim brewer Jim brewer on Oct 08, 2014

    You can get this thing with the excellent 3.7L jointly developed with Ford, right? about the same weight as a Mustang? I'm in. Let me get back to you on the mysterious appeal of a Mazda.

  • Jimal Jimal on Oct 09, 2014

    I'll admit to having a very soft spot for Mazda. I briefly owned a 2010 MAZDASPEED3 and I loved it. We needed a new car for my wife and daughter to commute in and at the time I made the adult decision to put them into a new 2013 Passat TDI. In hindsight I should have unloaded the old Passat wagon and kept my MS3. I miss that car to this day.

  • 2manyvettes Tadge was at the Corvette Corral at the Rolex 24 hour sports car race at the end of January 2023. During the Q&A after his remarks someone stood up and told him "I will never buy an electric Corvette." His response? "I will never sell you an electric Corvette." Take that Fwiw.
  • Socrates77 They're pinching pennies for the investors like always, greed has turned GM into a joke of an old corporate American greed.
  • Analoggrotto looking at this takes me right back to the year when “CD-ROM” first entered public lexicon
  • Alan My comment just went into the cloud.I do believe its up to the workers and I also see some simplistic comments against unionisation. Most of these are driven by fear and insecurity, an atypical conservative trait.The US for a so called modern and wealthy country has poor industrial relation practices with little protection for the worker, so maybe unionisation will advance the US to a genuine modern nation that looks after its workers well being, standard of living, health and education.Determining pay is measured using skill level, training level and risk associated with the job. So, you can have a low skilled job with high risk and receive a good pay, or have a job with lots of training and the pay is so-so.Another issue is viability of a business. If you have a hot dog stall and want $5 a dog and people only want to pay $4 you will go broke. This is why imported vehicles are important so people can buy more affordable appliances to drive to and from work.Setting up a union is easier than setting up work conditions and pay.
  • El scotto I can get the speedometer from dad's 72 Ford truck back. I can't get dad back.