Mazda USA Isn't Importing The New 2: Here's Why

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

“It’ll always be there if we need it.” – Robert Davis, Senior VP Of Mazda U.S. Operations, on Mazda2.

Although the car’s been certified for sale in the United States, Mazda won’t be bringing the new 2 to American consumers. That doesn’t mean the possibility isn’t there for the future, according to Automotive News, nor does it mean the 2 won’t appear in the United States in another form.

Despite significant improvements, the fourth-generation 2 – formerly known as the Demio and a successor to the first 2 sold in the U.S. – would likely have fared little better than its predecessor.

Mazda began selling the 2 in the U.S. in 2010, at a time when consumers were mad about saving money, not just in terms of payment but also in terms of fuel. Auto consumers are now far more willing to fork over more of their hard-earned cash, even if it means extending the term of their loan.

As a result, subcompact car volume has taken a hit. Through the first four months of 2015, sales of the departing 2 and its better-selling rivals from Nissan, Hyundai, Honda, Chevrolet, Ford, Toyota, and Kia are down 4%. In fact, April was the first month this year in which subcompact sales increased on a year-over-year basis.

Even before the recent downturn in subcompact car sales and the discontinuation of the America’s first Mazda 2, the subcompact Mazda was not among the leaders in its category. On the contrary, the opposite was true.

Since July 2010, over 58 months, Mazda has sold just 61,909 copies of the 2 in the United States. Nissan can sell that many Versas over the span of just six months.

Mazda2 sales peaked in the model’s second full year of 2012 at just 19,315 units. Yet even in 2012, the 2 ranked last in its category. Even non-traditional small cars like the Fiat 500 and late-to-the-party cars like the Dodge Dart (which only competed in the second-half of 2012) outsold the 2 in its best-ever U.S. sales year. Moreover, Mazda was able to sell six times as many copies of the 3 in 2012 as the 2.

Now, with the CX-3 junior crossover arriving to help the compact 3 bolster Mazda’s volume, the simple cost of marketing the 2, a car which has passed U.S. regulatory hurdles, is deemed to be greater than the potential profit earned from actually selling the car.

If it’s difficult for a large automaker to create sufficient margins on high-volume subcompact cars, it’s obviously going to be far more challenging for a small automaker like Mazda to create sufficient profit of a low-volume car like the 2. While it’s true that consumers would be quick to look at the new 2 differently (there’s no 4-speed automatic, there’ll be a greater feature array including head-up display, fuel economy is said to be 20% better) it’s clear that Mazda believes what’s past is prologue. The first bound-for-America 2 flopped. The experiment didn’t pay off. Let’s not do it again.

Meanwhile, for consumers who want a Mazda 2, they’ll still be able to buy one. It won’t be a hatchback, and it won’t wear a Mazda badge. But the upcoming Scion iA is, in essence, a 2016 Mazda 2. From fueleconomy.gov, we can assume that the iA will achieve the same fuel economy as the 2 was said to achieve, since the government website is still showing that the 2 will be made available.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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  • Festiboi Festiboi on May 26, 2015

    It's easy for Mazda to blame the failure of the 2 in the US on American's dislike of hatchbacks, and then make the assumption that this next 2 will endure the same the fate. However, popular hatchbacks like the Sonic, Versa, and Fit prove otherwise. I rented a 2 several years ago, and it was the most awful car I had driven in years. The engine was pretty gutless, the interior was full of hard, dull plastics, fuel economy was pathetic for a car its size (32mpg highway!?), and it just felt cramped and tinny. I remember the engine being extremely loud and relentless and it seemed as though the sound insulation was made of old Chinese newspapers. I drove the car about 250 miles in a day, and it brought back the stigma of a penalty box. Couldn't wait to get rid of it. And then Mazda had the nerve to charge $16k for a base model, and close to $20k for a Touring model of this car? So not worth it much better cars available for the same price, if not less. Sure, the handling was good, but most subcompact buyers don't care too much about that. The car made an awful impression on my drive, and wouldn't be too impressive on the showroom floor or on a test drive for the average consumer. Especially when the more substantial Sonic, immensely roomier Fit or Versa, and more frugal Fiesta were available for the same price, if not less

    • RideHeight RideHeight on May 26, 2015

      "Sure, the handling was good, but most subcompact buyers don’t care too much about that." Exactly. Except for well-to-do edge cases, no Americans buy little crampy cars unless they have to. Objectively, who can blame us when we would have to coexist at 80 mph with all those big scary things on the road? Not to mention just plain hatred of being cramped and blind in traffic? "Handling" is as esoteric and rare a concern here as is opera. And we LUUUV hatches as long as they're on CUVs or larger.

  • Truckducken Truckducken on May 26, 2015

    Dear Lord, this thread is a mess. I came here to read about the new M2, and all anyone can think to point out is that the previous one sucked six ways from Sunday. Nice to know, and thanks for sharing, but let's get back on topic. This new unit bagged Japan's Car of Year award and sounds like a much better offering inside and out. I'm disappointed to see Mazda passing on the US, and hope they reconsider once the sales rush for the new CX-3 and Miata has died down. There's a market for small cars here, but the penalty box market is particularly tiny and the Versa already owns it.

    • Chaparral Chaparral on Jun 02, 2015

      Here's the problem - the old 2 didn't "suck six ways to Sunday". Car and Driver thought it was the 3rd-best car in class. It was light, quick (0-60 in the high 8s with a manual), roomy enough for 4 average-sized people, and easy on consumables. You'd think the TTAC Skinflintariat would've loved it.

  • JK I grew up with Dodge trucks in the US, and now live in Turin, Italy, the home of Fiat. I don't think Italians view this as an Italian company either. There are constant news articles and protests about how stalantis is moving operations out of Italy. Jeep is strangely popular here though. I think last time I looked at stelantis's numbers, Jeep was the only thing saving them from big big problems.
  • Bd2 Oh yeah, funny how Trumpers (much less the Orange Con, himself) are perfectly willing to throw away the Constitution...
  • Bd2 Geeze, Anal sure likes to spread his drivelA huge problem was Fisher and his wife - who overspent when they were flush with cash and repeatedly did things ad hoc and didn't listen to their employees (who had more experience when it came to auto manufacturing, engineering, etc).
  • Tassos My Colleague Mike B bought one of these (the 300 SEL, same champagne color) new around June 1990. I thought he paid $50k originally but recently he told me it was $62k. At that time my Accord 1990 Coupe LX cost new, all included, $15k. So today the same car means $150k for the S class and $35k-40k for the Accord. So those %0 or 62k , these were NOT worthless, Idiot Joe Biden devalued dollars, so he paid AN ARM AND A LEG. And he babied the car, he really loved it, despite its very weak I6 engine with a mere 177 HP and 188 LBFT, and kept it forever. By the time he asked me to drive it (to take him to the dealer because his worthless POS Buick Rainier "SUV" needed expensive repairs (yes, it was a cheap Buick but he had to shell out thousands), the car needed a lot of suspension work, it drove like an awful clunker. He ended up donating it after 30 years or so. THIS POS is no different, and much older. Its CHEAPSKATE owner should ALSO donate it to charity instead of trying to make a few measly bucks off its CARCASS. Pathetic!
  • RHD The re-paint looks like it was done with a four-inch paintbrush. As far as VWs go, it's a rebadged Seat... which is still kind of a VW, made in Mexico from a Complete Knock-Down kit. 28 years in Mexico being driven like a flogged mule while wearing that ridiculous rear spoiler is a tough life, but it has actually survived... It's unique (to us), weird, funky (very funky), and certainly not worth over five grand plus the headaches of trying to get it across the border and registered at the local DMV.
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