Mazda Wants 2 Percent U.S. Market Share, But Not Just Any Ol' 2 Percent Market Share

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
mazda wants 2 percent u s market share but not just any ol 2 percent market share

“I am not comfortable with 2 percent. I’m comfortable with a good 2 percent.”

– Masahiro Moro, President and CEO, Mazda North American Operations

Mazda’s U.S. market share fell to a 10-year low in 2016 and hasn’t noticeably recovered in the first four months of 2017. A small lineup with no presence in key segments limits Mazda’s chances of becoming a major automaker.

But Mazda doesn’t want to be a major automaker. Mazda wants to be a small but profitable automaker with profitable dealers and loyal buyers.

Mazda also wants to carry greater sway in the U.S. market than it does at the moment. Only slightly. Fractionally more. Marginally, almost imperceptibly more. Only 1.7 percent of the new vehicles sold in the United States are Mazdas. Mazda wants 2 percent, surely a reasonable and easily attainable goal.

But Mazda’s North American boss, Masahiro Moro, has no intention of jumping up to that 2-percent marker rashly or hastily.

Moro wants a good 2-percent share of the U.S. auto industry, not a 2-percent figure grabbed with lofty incentives and stair-step programs and short-term gains.

Mazda is in desperate need of more loyal customers, and ruining the resale values of on-the-road Mazdas with ultra-low prices on new 3s and 6s won’t do existing customers any favors.

Automakers average 53-percent loyalty, Automotive News reports, but Mazda’s brand loyalty was just 39 percent last year. As a result, Mazda is far too reliant on earning business at the expense of rival automakers rather than on the back of Mazda’s own success.

Mazda hasn’t owned more than 2 percent of the U.S. market since 1994, when Mazda’s annual volume was 26-percent higher than it is now. In fact, Mazda’s 2.5-percent result in 1994 ended an 11-year streak in which Mazda earned more than 2 percent of the U.S. market’s annual volume. Ever since, Mazda has averaged 1.7 percent market share, falling just a tick below the 2-percent marker in the midst of the recession, from 2008-2011.

Mazda wants more affluent customers to pay higher prices for its existing products while also carving out a more premium image for each new model introduction, in the vein of the second-generation CX-9. The majority of CX-9 customers choose one of the two top trim levels, Grand Touring and Signature, which sticker above $41,000 and $45,000, respectively. Granted, this hasn’t made the CX-9 a powerhouse on the three-row family crossover leaderboard, but that was never Mazda’s intention. The new CX-9 is on track for its best sales year since 2011.

Mazda says the annual household income for a Mazda buyer has risen to $93,000, a 16-percent increase over the last half-decade.

Until Mazda’s entire product lineup represents the brand’s new Mazda Premium strategy, Masahiro Moro has no intention to chase after the modest 2-percent goal. Moreover, Moro told Automotive News the fulfillment of this strategy will take,”at least 10 years,” though the 2-percent figure could be achieved much sooner.

Mazda sales climbed to a 21-year high in the U.S. in 2015 but then slid to a three-year low in 2017. Through the first quarter of 2017, Mazda rose 7 percent, a gain of more than 4,000 sales thanks to improvements across much of the lineup, even the Mazda 6. April sales, however, slipped 8 percent because of sharp decreases from the Mazda 3, Mazda 6, and Mazda CX-3. Utility vehicles now account for more than half of Mazda’s U.S. volume.

The CX-5, Mazda’s best-selling model, is America’s 20th-best-selling SUV/crossover. The Mazda 3 is America’s 23rd-best-selling car.

But those two vehicles account for nearly seven out of every ten Mazda sales, with the brand’s other products operating as niche vehicles in smaller segments.

Masahiro Moro acknowledges Mazda is a non-entity in more than 40 percent of America’s market segments, creating a real challenge if Mazda is to ever attain its 2 percent goal.

A good 2 percent goal.

Timothy Cain is the founder of and a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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  • SuperCarEnthusiast SuperCarEnthusiast on May 16, 2017

    Why not bring all your crossover to the U.S. marketplace? The sporty CX-4 has been selling better then the CX-5 in China and in Japan. But it remains there with no chance of coming over to the North America market! Why not? Have the 2.5L turbo as an engine option for the CX-5 now instead of the 2.2L diesel! Mazda says it not needed and no demand for that either! LOL! Bring back the Mazda small compact pickup truck into the U.S. marketplace since Isuzu does not sell in the U.S. market anymore! Another big opportunity for Mazda but they say they not going do that either!

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    • Oberkanone Oberkanone on May 16, 2017

      Mazda has no compact truck to sell. BT-50 is same size as Ford Ranger, so midsize truck. Mazda only sells trucks globally in markets outside of North America. North America is not a good market for pickup trucks. *at least not for Mazda!

  • Daniel J Daniel J on May 16, 2017

    What percent of Accords sold are v6? Camry's? Would everyone go rush out and buy Mazda's if v6 or turbo 4s magically appeared as option for the cx5 or Mazda 6? No.

    • SuperCarEnthusiast SuperCarEnthusiast on May 17, 2017

      Since their competition has V6s, turbos; does it not make sense that Mazda also has to have it too; to be competitive? If no; then you are on the same wavelength as Masahiro Moro. He want to transform Mazda into upscale brands like Acura, Infiniti, Lincoln, Volvo but does not want to give customers higher performance engine choices not even the 2.5L Turbocharge engine in the CX-9! He counting on driving dynamics alone will do it solely for Mazda! He must be taking some "awesome stuff"! LOL!

  • Jam65757601 This is a way of saying the VW empire is shaky,
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