By on June 4, 2020

Sport Mazda dealer storefront - Image: MazdaMonth after month, as the Mazda product lineup improves and as plaudits pour in, we chronicle the company’s tragic dearth of U.S. sales success. The automaker’s goals for performance in the American marketplace are modest: a good 2 percent market share, for example. Yet generating meaningful demand for deserving products – the second-generation CX-9 and the new-for-2019 Mazda 3, as examples – has proven remarkably challenging.

At least it was remarkably challenging, until a pandemic battered and bruised the U.S. auto market beyond all recognition. U.S. auto sales in the first quarter of 2020 tumbled by more than 12 percent, yet Mazda sales during the same period were off by just 4 percent. Mazda market share ticked up to 1.9 percent in Q1.

But it was Mazda’s May 2020 performance, in which the brand’s sales in the United States dropped by fewer than 300 units, that Mazda appeared downright hopeful. You won’t be surprised to learn the market fared much, much worse.

2020 Mazda CX-30 Soul Red - Image: MazdaThere’s a problem with May reporting, just as there was with April reporting, just as there will be with sales reports issued for July, August, October, and November. Most automakers now refrain from monthly reports, opting instead to issue model-specific U.S. sales stats only on a quarterly basis.

Mazda is joined only by nine other brands: Acura, Genesis, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Lexus, Subaru, Toyota, and Volvo. Those nine brands collectively reported a 21-percent drop, 21 times worse than Mazda’s almost imperceptible decline. After an estimated 39-percent decline for the overall industry in March and a 50-percent nosedive in April, May sales likely dipped by around 30 percent based on estimates for non-reporting brands.

That would mean Mazda’s market share grew from 1.6 percent in May 2019 to 2.2 percent in May 2020.

How?

As predicted, the first ever, confusingly named, right-sized Mazda CX-30 is central to the brand’s mid-COVID improvements. Yet the addition of the CX-30’s 3,583 additional sales was by no means the only bonus for Mazda.2020 Mazda MX5 Miata grey - Image: MazdaYear-over-year, MX-5 Miata sales jumped 31 percent. With 1,102 sales, it was the first four-digit sales month for Mazda’s droptop since last July and only the fifth such 1K+ month in the last three years. Mazda averaged fewer than 700 monthly Miata sales in 2019 and hasn’t averaged more than 1,000 per month since 2007.

Sales of Mazda’s flagship, the three-row CX-9, also shot up in May. 2,421 CX-9s were sold, a 21-percent YOY improvement. Through the first five months of the year, CX-9 sales are up 6 percent. That puts the second-gen CX-9, launched in 2016, on track for its best year yet.

Mazda U.S. Sales Chart 2010-2020 Best Sellers - Image: © TTACDeserving of the bulk of credit, however, is the CX-30, a competitor for the Subaru Crosstrek, Nissan Rogue Sport, Kia Seltos, and numerous others, including vehicles in Mazda’s lineup. Consider the fact that while Mazda added 3,583 CX-30 sales in May, sales of the Mazda 3 (with which it shares a platform), CX-3 (which it’s destined to replace), and CX-5 (which it undercuts in price) dropped by a total of 3,862 units.

It would be too simplistic to suggest that every sale of a CX-30 cost Mazda the sale of a 3, CX-3, or CX-5. But it certainly wouldn’t be too far-fetched to suggest that the CX-30 acted in cannibalistic fashion in various corners of the Mazda showroom. The CX-30 is certainly cementing its position as the CX-5’s prime understudy: CX-30 sales have outnumbered sales of the 3 (sedan and hatch inclusive) since March.

Through the end of May, Mazda sales in 2020 are down 11 percent, a loss of more than 12,000 units. Kia, Hyundai, Toyota, Subaru, and Honda fell 13 percent, 17 percent, 21 percent, 23 percent, and 25 percent, respectively, during the same five-month period. Mazda’s market share picture will become much clearer when all automakers report first-half auto sales in early July.

[Images: Mazda]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Driving.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

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20 Comments on “Mazda’s U.S. Sales Situation Finally Starts Coming Together, in the Middle of a Pandemic? And Because of the Miata?...”


  • avatar
    Daniel J

    We took delivery of a new CX5 Grand Touring Reserve. We got a decent deal. Our concern was the falling value of our trade in which declined significantly in just a month.

    In talking with the dealership, the last two weeks of May were the busiest they’d seen in 6 or more months.

  • avatar
    MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

    Once the Turbo 2.5L becomes available in the CX30, I’d expect many more sales. Kind of makes for a comfier, “more sophisticated” WRX alternative.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I don’t know how many WRX drivers would go for a CX30, but I could definitely see people who are in the market for something like an Audi Q3, Lexus NX or BMW X3 taking a hard look.

      The frustrating thing about the whole 3 “family” is that if Mazda put a real motor in them, they’d be great alternatives to entry-lux vehicles – a 3 sedan with AWD is good-looking and well-finished enough to compete with, say, a Mercedes A220, but the performance just isn’t there.

      Mazda supposedly fancies itself as a premium brand, but hasn’t figured out that premium buyers want performance.

      • 0 avatar
        Daniel J

        I guess you’ll have to define “luxury”. In consideration of the CX5 We test drove an XT4, XC40, XC60(was too big), Acura RDX (also a little larger), Envision, a used Lexus RX and a new Lexus NX. It was just as perfromant as all the vehicles I just mentioned.

        All of these models drove differently. The XT4 was the most interesting but also dissapointing in a lot of ways, especially considering the price for what it is. But it drove more like a car and handles very well.

        The Buick Envision MSRP for almost 50K was selling for 39K and seemed honestly the most “luxurious” of all the cars I just mentioned. The NX was a step up from the XT4 outside of the infotainment screen. The XC40 was nice but just a tad too small for us, while the XC60 was a little large but a bit out of our price range. The Lexus RX was just weird.

        Out of all the premium cars we drove the RDX was the only one in real contention after it was all said and done. For what you get in an RDX to get in our CX5 you’d have to step up to the Advanced Package and its just not worth the price difference. The infotainment was slightly better but in terms of material quality, NVH, and ride, the Mazda CX-5 was every bit as good.

        Jalopnik is reporting that the 3 will get a turbo motor in 2019.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          The hotter motor can’t come soon enough.

          I’d define “luxury” as a car that’s a cut above the rest in terms of style, performance and finish. And I think the CX-30 would qualify, even coming from a non-luxury brand, *if* it had a real engine.

          If they offered the 2.5 turbo in this at a high-30s price point, loaded-up, it’d be a killer deal. Compare that to the XT4 you drove, which is about the same size – you’re talking fifty grand (same for a Lexus NX; a Q3 would be more like mid-40s). I think it has the style and the interior to compare against cars like that.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          CX5 material and build quality shames Acura

          • 0 avatar
            Daniel J

            Slavuta,

            A few things I think the CX5 needs is an upgraded infotainment, narrower center console for slightly larger seats like the XT4, and a panoramic sunroof.

            I have a 2018 Mazda 6 with the same motor as our CX-5 and yet the CX5 puts the power down so much better due to AWD.

            The RDX was nice and has better cargo, but the price really just turned us off. We were willing to go 45K, but to get the things we wanted we have to Add the Advance Package which makes it much pricier.

            The CRV would be fine but none of the motors are great and CVT is a non-starter.

          • 0 avatar
            tankinbeans

            Daniel, I had wondered if I was imagining things when I went from a 2017 Mazda6 Touring to a 2019 CX-5 Touring AWD about the power delivery feeling different. Though the vehicle is heavier, it seems to want to keep going. I have the NA 2.5 and feel it’s plenty sufficient to meet my expectations.

            Some variables here are that I went from a manual to an automatic (I know bad car person, bad *preparing to get hand slapped*) and I admit to being less attuned to certain characteristics than others and my subjective feelings may fail me.

            I just know that no matter where I am I usually walk off the stop light with no trouble while everybody else is still dealing the light changed. Granted that mostly comes from paying attention to the traffic around me and watching the lights, but every little bit helps.

            If I had nits to pick it would be that the inactive touchscreen while in motion is a bit annoying, especially for Android Auto which is optimized for touch (the rotary, while useful emough, is just awkward) and the mileage seems a bit overstated.

            Also, I hear tell that Mazda is releasing a new model next year, the CX-50, to replace the CX-5; 3 litre straight 6, RWD biased, possibly manual. I’m curious.

    • 0 avatar
      k1453

      Not even close to being a WRX alternative.

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      I like the CX-30 a lot. But a lightly-used, loaded 17′-18′ CX-5 or Mazda3 hatch’s seem like great deals. I keep delaying a new car purchase/decision, which is probably for the best. At least I’ve grown out of my VW phase.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    This article exists because a single data point exists. I saw a recent article that said Anchorage International Airport was the nation’s busiest for a brief time during the CV shutdown – interesting, but not meaningful or durable information.

    Nothing in Mazda’s lineup or in the market points to Mazda sales growing 22% over last year, which is what must happen to hit 2% share (if the market remained the same size, which it won’t). And from whom would Mazda steal this market share?

    Really, all of 2020 car sales will have an asterisk by them, but let’s wait until fall to see how the new normal is shaping up.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Mr. Mazda is here reporting how great things are with them. Yet no mention of the $300 billion Yen loan it seeks from Japan.

      We know your daytime job, Tim!

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    Mazda wishes it had 2% of the USDM. We are seeing a bump in the statistics derived from an upset marketplace likely due to the introduction of a new model. The slight uptick may continue for another month after which Mazda’s steady decline will continue.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Mazda’s problem is that they are charging extra for essentially premium interior materials, which most regular buyers wouldn’t notice or want to pay more for. So they are at an MSRP disadvantage vs comparable cars. The people who do care about better interiors are let down by the ho hum engines. Turbo everything is the solution.

    • 0 avatar
      Daniel J

      There, IMHO is nothing Ho him about the 2.5T. Unlike some car companies, BSM is standard on most trims. Cooled seats and HUD can be had on the Grand Touring Reserve. IMHO they are the new Oldsmobile

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      I bought a new Mazda6 in 2017. Then and now, it is clear that Mazdas have some of the best – if not THE best – interiors in their respective classes. Not necessarily in premium materials but also overall design. Their dashboards could be made from papier-mache and still look gorgeous.

      Aside from interiors, their cars are arguably the best looking and best handling in class.

      IMO the only significant area in which they fall behind their competitors is lack of dealership network and depreciation.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        And interior space….

        I don’t mind much myself, but it seems everyone I manage to send to look at a Mazda, ends up complaining that the corresponding Honda/Hyundai/Kia/Ford is “soo much more” spacious….

  • avatar
    RedRocket

    A pretty absurd conclusion by the author. Mazda’s sedans are virtually unsaleable right now. The 6 is a good car that nobody wants, while the 3 has been wrecked by the restyle, especially the hatch. The CX-3 is circling the drain thanks to the introduction of the CX-30 and rightly so. The CX-5 is very dated, clinging to a 6-speed automatic when competitors offer 8, 9 or 10 speeds, has a very poor infortainment system, and is underpowered in most trims. The nicer uplevel models are pricey and also suffer from the preponderance of base models that detract from the “premium brand” cachet the company claims it seeks. You cannot survive in North America on Miata sales. The future of Mazda in N. A. remains murky at best.

  • avatar
    xpistns

    There is a Mazda that embodies the feeling a previous MX-5/RX driver would enjoy for the family. It’s better than any SUV at handling, has a third row seat, and is good on gas.

    It’s the 5. The only problem I had was some understeer which I remedied with a fatter rear stabilizer.

    Unfortunately, vans are not de rigeur and fashion is loyal to no one. That’s ok because, as I’m ripping around corners while hauling everything else in between, let all the flashy sports car people get pulled over by cops while I zip by unnoticed.

  • avatar
    Johnster

    All things considered, there aren’t very many Mazda dealers around and that sure doesn’t help the sales situation. It seems to me that where there are Mazda dealers, the cars seem to sell fairly well. I see a fair number of Mazda 3s, CX-9s, CX-5s and CX-3s, and a few 6s and MX-5s where I currently live. I haven’t seen a CX-30 yet.

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