TTAC Reverse Bump: Mazda USA Rebounds In April After Dreadful First Quarter

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
ttac reverse bump mazda usa rebounds in april after dreadful first quarter

After Mazda reported dreadful first-quarter U.S. sales results, this article, which surveyed some of the potential reasons consumers would turn away from specific Mazda products, was read more often than any other TTAC article in April. Even as critics, myself included, endlessly point out the driver-centric ideology that makes Mazdas so fun, first-quarter sales plunged 17 percent, a loss of more than 13,000 sales for Mazda dealers.

Perhaps there’s a reverse TTAC bump. Maybe we were just practicing our latest reverse psychology techniques, attempting to lure buyers into Mazda showrooms. Like parents who tell their constipated toddlers, “You won’t like this bran muffin, no, not one bit,” to develop an inexplicable craving, we may have told you about road noise, odd ride height, poor equipment choices, and cramped rear quarters simply to stoke Mazda curiosity.

It worked. Sort of. “Mazda achieved its best April since 1995 with 26,195 vehicles sold,” the company said on Tuesday. Mazda’s market share climbed to a four-month high. Year-over-year, Mazda’s volume grew more than twice as fast as the industry average.

Even in a positive month, it’s abundantly clear that Mazda remains a mainstream auto brand with niche appeal. Fewer than 2 percent of the new vehicles sold in the United States in April 2016 were Mazdas. Ten individual nameplates from other companies — including three pickup trucks, two utility vehicles, and five cars — outsold the whole Mazda brand.

As U.S. sales of midsize cars fell 4 percent, largely due to the Chrysler 200’s massive losses, the Mazda6’s April sales slid 21 percent to its eighth consecutive sub-5,000-unit sales month.

The CX-3, despite being a new participant in one of the hottest segments in the industry, isn’t picking up any steam. CX-3 sales fell to a three-month low, the second-lowest total from the last five months. Most of the CX-3’s rivals outsold the Mazda by huge margins.

The 1.5-percent decline of Mazda’s (former) best seller, the CX-5, wouldn’t be noteworthy had America’s SUV/crossover sector not grown at an 8-percent clip.

(Note: There were 27 selling days in April 2016; 26 in April 2015. This means the daily selling rate at Mazda was up 4.6 percent, though volume grew 8.6 percent. Likewise, the U.S. auto industry’s 3.5-percent increase equalled no growth on a daily selling rate basis.)

Known as the best-selling roadster of all time, the highly regarded and recently relaunched MX-5 Miata was outsold by the Buick Cascada, albeit by only a handful of units. Rare though it continues to be, the MX-5 nevertheless played a role in Mazda’s April expansion, contributing an extra 702 sales last month, year-over-year.

There are factors working against Mazda growth in early 2016. The discontinued Mazda5 forced the loss of 382 April sales. The wait for the second-generation CX-9 flagship caused Mazda dealers to lose out on 1,250 sales, as well.

Thus, the model that historically sat at the core of the Mazda lineup was responsible for generating four in ten Mazda sales in April 2016. Sales of the Mazda3 sedan and hatchback jumped 34 percent to 10,772 units, seventh among compacts, up from tenth a year ago.

The Mazda3 was by no means the only compact to post big gains in April. Kia Forte sales shot up 36 percent. The Nissan Sentra, now America’s third-best-selling small car, recorded a 12-percent April increase. Honda Civic sales, meanwhile, jumped 35 percent to 35,331 units, good enough to dethrone the Toyota Camry (perhaps temporarily) as America’s top-selling car.

One month does not a back-on-track an automaker make. It’s not reasonable to assume Mazda can consistently grow sales of the Mazda3 at this rate. The CX-5 became Mazda USA’s best seller in 2015, but it’s now a four-year-old model in a highly competitive segment. Availability of the MX-5-based Fiat 124 Spider may, to a small degree, limit MX-5 growth.

But just as the CX-5 became what the CX-7 and Tribute never were, a genuinely high-volume small crossover, Mazda is hoping that the new CX-9 becomes a formidable challenger for the Toyota Highlander, Nissan Pathfinder, Honda Pilot, and Ford Explorer. The first CX-9 certainly wasn’t.

Perhaps we should share some of the reasons why the first CX-9 failed. Does the TTAC Reverse Psychology Bump work in the pre-owned market?

[Image Source: Mazda USA]

Timothy Cain is the founder of, 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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  • RacerZ RacerZ on May 09, 2016

    It took a bit before the Cx5 got off the ground. Im hoping the Cx3 does the same thing. Hopefully they can get it to the 3k mark a month. Its selling like hot cakes overseas.

  • Zoomzoomfan Zoomzoomfan on May 09, 2016

    I posted this on the "Why no one is buying Mazdas" thread and it's still quite relevant now. I had a 2008 Mazda3 S Touring hatchback from August 2009 to October 2015. Drove it 60,000 miles with no real issues. No rust, either (and yeah, I drove it all winter – it was fantastic in the snow). Replaced it this past October with a 2016 Mazda6 i Touring, which is a fantastic vehicle as well. Good looking, fun to drive, comfortable, spacious, economical, and affordable. I have ferried my friends around a lot and they all complimented the rear seat room (especially compared to my old 3). An infant car seat fits well, also (my friend just adopted a baby and he was quite content in the 6). It also has a huge trunk. I don’t regret my decision one bit. My wife has a 2013 Mazda CX-5 that we bought new in December 2012. It now has 34,000 miles and has literally never visited the dealer except for tire rotations and oil changes (and one PCM update due to a recall). My wife loves it and said if anything happened to it, she’d immediately want another one. The radio is a bit dated, but the Bluetooth connection is reliable and it streams music okay, which is all my wife wanted. It consistently delivers near 30 MPG, does fantastic in the snow even with just front-wheel-drive, and most importantly, didn't cost that much compared to the Toyota RAV-4s and Honda CRVs we cross shopped. I don’t understand the number one complaint of road noise. I don’t notice any prevalent noise from either of our Mazdas. No more than other cars I have ridden in (including a CR-V and a Camry). Maybe we are just oblivious. My old 3 was really loud, but I had lowered it with Eibach springs and put a MazdaSpeed 3 exhaust on it, so the noise was 100% my fault. I love Mazda as a brand – obviously, since I’ve had 3 of them. They’re fun, good looking, reliable, affordable, safe cars. I think their #1 problem is brand recognition. They just don’t have the presence Toyota and Honda do. Everyone in the world has heard of the Camry and the Corolla, not so much the 6 and the 3. I still have people ask me what my car is on a near-daily basis. I don’t see Mazda pulling out of the U.S. market, though. If anything, they’ll pick up another partner like they had with Ford. And that new partner will most likely be Toyota (see the iA and the fact that it’s already outselling the Yaris and the rest of the Scion line – and was doing so before the announcement of the death of Scion). Mazda makes great cars and their turnaround on their own is nothing short of amazing.

    • RacerZ RacerZ on May 09, 2016

      mazda had a banner year last year. They arent pulling out the market anytime soon. Some of these people are nitpicking ( or exaggerating) simply repeating what theyve "heard". Some of them will never be happy and will always find something wrong. Lol Cant please everyone i suppose. Though i was kind of shocked to a extent that their sales dropped as such this first quarter. When i saw the numbers in Feb for Jan i assumed it was bad weather etc. Then Feb and March rolled around. Im glad they rebounded in April. I think mazada should of kept the Protege name. While not as popular as Corolla enough people knew what a Protege was by the 3rd gen. Though i understand they were trying to re-brand themselves. They need a marketing whiz to boot. Some of their commercials are Meh. They have to get their name out their more. Also when they had the mazda 2 here they shouldve imported the sedan to this market. Not the Hatch. I personally love hatchbacks and have owned 3 in my life. However, most Americans dont. Even if they made a small profit on them it was a way to introduce buyers to the brand. The Mada 5 was barely advertised especially once the 2nd gen hit. A newer Mazda 5 with the new Skyactive platform and a Awd option probably wouldve of been a good idea.

  • Brett Woods My 4-Runner had a manual with the 4-cylinder. It was acceptable but not really fun. I have thought before that auto with a six cylinder would have been smoother, more comfortable, and need less maintenance. Ditto my 4 banger manual Japanese pick-up. Nowhere near as nice as a GM with auto and six cylinders that I tried a bit later. Drove with a U.S. buddy who got one of the first C8s. He said he didn't even consider a manual. There was an article about how fewer than ten percent of buyers optioned a manual in the U.S. when they were available. Visited my English cousin who lived in a hilly suburb and she had a manual Range Rover and said she never even considered an automatic. That's culture for you.  Miata, Boxster, Mustang, Corvette and Camaro; I only want manual but I can see both sides of the argument for a Mustang, Camaro or Challenger. Once you get past a certain size and weight, cruising with automatic is a better dynamic. A dual clutch automatic is smoother, faster, probably more reliable, and still allows you to select and hold a gear. When you get these vehicles with a high performance envelope, dual-clutch automatic is what brings home the numbers. 
  • ToolGuy 2019 had better comments than 2023 😉
  • Inside Looking Out In June 1973, Leonid Brezhnev arrived in Washington for his second summit meeting with President Richard Nixon. Knowing of the Soviet leader’s fondness for luxury automobiles, Nixon gave him a shiny Lincoln Continental. Brezhnev was delighted with the present and insisted on taking a spin around Camp David, speeding through turns while the president nervously asked him to slow down.
  • Bobby D'Oppo Great sound and smooth power delivery in a heavier RWD or AWD vehicle is a nice blend, but current V8 pickup trucks deliver an unsophisticated driving experience. I think a modern full-size pickup could be very well suited to a manual transmission.In reality, old school, revvy atmo engines pair best with manual transmissions because it's so rewarding to keep them in the power band on a winding road. Modern turbo engines have flattened the torque curve and often make changing gears feel more like a chore.
  • Chuck Norton For those worried about a complex power train-What vehicle doesn't have one? I drive a twin turbo F-150 (3.5) Talk about complexity.. It seems reliability based on the number of F-150s sold is a non-issue. As with many other makes/models. I mean how many operations are handle by micro today's vehicles?