Mini-MPVs Just Won't Hurry Up And Die Already
99.9 percent of the minivans sold in the United States in 2016 were (oxymoronically-titled) full-size minivans.
The Kia Rondo finished its brief one-generation U.S. run in 2011, having generated 73,100 total sales over the course of nearly five years.
Having produced more than 160,000 sales for Mazda USA, the Mazda 5 is likewise no longer part of the automaker’s U.S. lineup. Mazda 5 volume was essentially chopped in half between 2008 and 2014.
The Chevrolet Orlando arrived in North America with a decidedly Floridian name but never actually made its way to Florida, or the U.S. market as a whole. Having generated 12,038 Canadian sales, the Orlando quickly departed Canada after volume plunged 81 percent between 2012 and 2014.
Yet the Kia Rondo and Mazda 5 are still available in Canada. They’re alive and (un)well. And while “full-size minivans” claim 96 percent of Canadian MPV sales, Kia and Mazda just won’t give up on their genuinely mini minivans.
Prompted to look into the matter after January sales of the Kia Rondo and Mazda 5 fell to a combined, paltry, scarcely measurable 189 units last month (the Mazda averaged 1,000 monthly sales on its own in 2008; the Rondo more than 800 monthly sales during the same year), we made inquiries at the Canadian outposts of both Kia and Mazda.
At Kia, in particular, recent Rondo results have been disastrous. Sales in 2013 tied the Rondo’s worst performance ever even as Kia launched an all-new, long-awaited model. Then sales dropped 12 percent in 2014, took a 35-percent hit in 2015, and plunged 45 percent in 2016. January began with only 48 Rondo sales, the worst full month in the Rondo’s Canadian history.
Kia’s response: “We have no current plans to discontinue the Rondo or any other of our current vehicles,” Mark James, Kia Canada’s corporate communications manager told TTAC last week; a firm, if not a ringing endorsement. Kia’s other vehicles accounted for 99 percent of the brand’s sales in January.
At Mazda, meanwhile, sales of the Mazda 5 have perked up recently, but only in comparison with a period during which Mazda 5 sales fell to the lowest level ever. Mazda 5 sales have increased on a year-over-year basis in each of the last five months, growing 15 percent during that period. But with the 5’s relatively recent U.S. death and the traditional ties between virtually every automaker’s Canadian and U.S. lineups, is Mazda Canada really going to forge ahead with an aging design for a vehicle that sells roughly one-seventh as often as it used to? Of the nearly 70,000 Mazdas sold in Canada over the last year, only 2 percent were Mazda 5s.
Sandra Lemaitre, Mazda Canada’s director of public relations, told TTAC, “In Canada, the 2017 model year Mazda5 went on sale in August 2016. We haven’t yet announced any details for 2018 model year vehicles, including the Mazda5, so I’m not able to confirm anything at this time.”
So there’s a chance it’s dead? No, Mazda declined to comment on the 2018 model year potential for any vehicle.
But how much longer can Kia and Mazda continue to import wildly unpopular products that aren’t sold in the United States?
For the most part, Canadians just want Dodge Grand Caravans. The ancient Dodge earned 57 percent of all Canadian minivan sales in 2016. And yet the Grand Caravan hasn’t yet killed off the ankle-biting upstarts.
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