Mazda USA's Market Share Fell Below 1.5% In October
In each of the last two years, America’s auto industry reported more new vehicle sales in October than in September. Sales increased 6% in October 2013, compared with the previous month. This year, October sales were 3% higher than September’s.
For Mazda, however, October is typically a low-volume month; their second-lowest-volume month in 2011; their lowest-volume month in 2012 and 2013. October 2014 sales were particularly poor, as Mazda USA sales fell to the lowest point since October 2012, crumbling 22% from September 2014’s total and 5% year-over-year.
Clearly, Mazda doesn’t have as many new cars and crossovers to sell in October, a traditional changeover season for model years in the auto industry. Therefore, one month is not a sufficient barometer of Mazda’s U.S. circumstance.
October’s dreadfully poor total does nevertheless symbolize Mazda’s disappointing U.S. situation. Fewer than 19,000 Mazdas were sold last month as the brand garnered just 1.47% of the market, down from 1.63% a year ago. And while Mazda USA volume is up 8% year-to-date, these are actually incremental gains because of the brand’s low-volume status one year ago. Mazda may well sell more than 300,000 new vehicles in 2014 – they haven’t topped 295K since 2007 – but an 8% improvement for Mazda translates to just 19,523 extra sales through ten months.
Fortunately, new product will help, even for a low-capacity company like Mazda. The next MX-5 will attract positive attention to the brand. A new 2 will surely sell better than the outgoing 2. The 6 and CX-5 will receive updates soon, as well.
Yet at the same time, Mazda is giving up on the increasingly outdated and unpopular 5, which was at the very least an unconventional product in the United States. Moreover, the assumption that new product will most surely help is belied by the 3’s figures. 3 sales are down 2% this year in an overall new vehicle market that’s risen more than 5% and a passenger car market that’s up 1%. Year-over-year, 3 sales tumbled 6% in October even as passenger car sales grew by 3%.
It was America’s 23rd-best-selling car in October, trailing nine small car rivals from the Corolla, Civic, and Cruze to the Sentra, Versa, and Soul. The 3 is Mazda’s freshest product at the moment, but it’s generating fewer buyers than the previous-generation 3. Compared with 2012, when 3 sales topped 120,000 units for the first time since 2007, 3 sales this year are down 15%.
For many enthusiast auto writers, it’s easier to avoid picking on an underdog like Mazda, as the brand is more of a cause célèbre than a naturally sought-after whipping boy. October’s dismal results, traditional though they may be for Mazda, once again bring about serious questions: Can an independent automaker with mainstream pricing make progress in the long-term while averaging fewer than 26,000 sales in America?
Mazda’s was America’s 18th-best-selling auto brand in October. BMW’s sales were 63% stronger. Kia, which a decade ago sold at the same rate as Mazda, sold far more than twice as many vehicles as Mazda in October.
Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.
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One thing that I've recently been thinking about is Consumers Union's POV on cars. They are more purist than EVO, let alone C&D! Look at their top scorers and there's only one "cruiser" in the bunch - the Prius - the rest are "carvers" either outright or relative to their class. Every Mazda is right near the top of the charts with the compact Fords. They whaled on the '12 Civic for losing its driver focus and are even knocking points off BMWs now that they're steer-by-Nintendo. Are they right? They can objectively establish & quantify what they want to see - high slalom speeds, short stopping distances, hot laptimes on a tight little track in East Haddam, low roll and pitch angles, clear steering feedback (good drivers give results that agree with measurements per C&D). Should CR be recommending a little manufacturer that wants to build Miatas with varying numbers of seats and driveline configurations? As someone who races a kart, my answer is "HELL YES," but a car with the traditional Detroit/Korea driving feel (5 deg pitch per g braking) loses a LOT more points than can be made up in the ride and noise categories. This is how the Ford Contour, Chrysler Cirrus, and Honda Accord matched the pinnacle-of-Toyota-being-Toyota '92-96 Camry in CR's testing.