The not-quite-subcompact CX-30 arrived at just the right time for Mazda, appearing at the tail end of what had been a grim 2019 for Mazda. Just as sales of the new tweener crossover matured, the pandemic hit.
As volumes struggle to regain potency across the industry, the new arrival in the Mazda stable helped the automaker post back-to-back monthly sales increase in June and July, replacing volume lost among the brand’s passenger cars — and then some.
If you read nothing else about the 2020 Mazda CX-9, let me be clear: this is the first car in which I’ve experienced a llama gnawing on the exterior trim, and yet I didn’t need to make a dreaded phone call to the automaker to explain any unusual damage.
Day 124 since lockdown yielded, for once, a new experience. Rather than our usual day of driving somewhere remote to get away from humanity, we drove somewhere remote to get closer to nature. Well, caged nature, at least, as we trekked to a drive-through safari/zoo in northern Ohio just to break the kids away from YouTube and Netflix for a few hours.
This biggest Mazda not only shed the licks and nibbles of captive animals – the mark from a bison’s horns wiped off with a towel – but it proved a comfortable long-distance hauler with better than expected fuel economy.
Mazda appears to have embraced a two-pronged strategy to generate interest in its redesigned-for-2019 3 hatchback and sedan. For the coming model year, the automaker plans to add two engines to the lineup — one a potent, uplevel offering designed to give enthusiasts the oomph they so desire; the other, a returning cast member that never went away north of the border.
After this latest move, Mazda may well be out of options for luring eyes and wallets.
Mazda fans wanted more power, and that wish will soon be granted. As we learned via dealership codes last month, the 2021 Mazda 3 will give buyers the option of boosting their car’s output via a new turbocharged engine.
As this month is all about vehicle debuts, there isn’t long to wait before the newly potent 3 gets its own public unveiling. And thanks to a Mexican ad, the model’s power levels are already no longer a mystery.
June auto sales in the hard-hit U.S. new vehicle market were nowhere near normal for this time of the year, down an estimated 25 percent below levels seen last June. An improvement from May, yes, but far from a return to normal.
Unless, of course, you’re Mazda.
The pandemic-era trend we detailed not long ago continued in June for the scrappy little automaker, with an unlikely product proving unusually popular and a much newer product doing exactly what its creators intended.
A report earlier this year may have been what many longtime Mazda fans yearned to hear: that the company stands prepared to dump extra horses on its compact 3 sedan and hatch. Floundering since its launch, the little 3 could use a boost — in a number of ways.
Model codes ripped from a dealer’s computer system seemed to indicate a greater level of performance was on the way, and on Thursday Mazda confirmed just that.
Today’s Rare Ride is boxy, brown, and well-equipped. It’s an unpopular variant of a less-than-mainstream midsize car of the Eighties. And at 38 years old, it’s managed to escape the rusty fate to which most all of these succumbed long ago.
Let’s check out the 1982 Mazda 626.
The redesigned Mazda 3 arrived for 2019 with upgrades in both looks and cabin refinement, elevating the sporty compact sedan and hatch to a level of class it never occupied before. Also new was optional all-wheel drive to temp those who like a little tail action in sandy corners (or just getting through the winter).
Unpredictably, the new 3 landed with a resounding thud.
Launched with too high an entry price in the U.S., the attractive model’s sales plunge was swift and jarring, forcing Mazda brass to re-think the whole effort. They’re still thinking, and it seems the latest move will bring moar power to the little KODOmobile.
Month 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.
A joint Toyota-Mazda assembly plant in Huntsville, Alabama could see its opening delayed, all thanks to the economic turmoil and construction delays borne of the coronavirus pandemic.
Akira Koga, Mazda’s senior managing executive officer, said in an earnings briefing Thursday that construction on the $1.6 billion joint facility, first announced in early 2018, is being hampered by virus fallout. That throws into doubt the timing of two new crossover vehicles — one of which is crucial to Mazda’s future.
The fiscal year that wrapped up at the end of March was not a good one for Mazda, the company claims, with profit cut almost in half amid fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. On Thursday, Mazda revealed a full-year operating profit of just $408 million — its lowest showing in 8 years.
Smaller than its Japanese rivals and heavily dependent on the North American consumer, Mazda was hit hard by lockdown orders that dried up sales in the U.S. and Canada in March.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic only reared its spiky head at the tail end of the fiscal year, but the disruption to automakers was strongly felt. In a new vehicle market that was largely cooling off, the impact of fewer sales and idled plants was immediate.
That said, the virus didn’t spread the damage evenly.
Mazda Toyota Manufacturing will have to wait a while before it manufactures any automobiles. The jointly operated facility in Huntsville, Alabama won’t open next spring as planned. It’s delayed on account of the coronavirus outbreak.
Designed to produce collaborative crossovers, the facility came to be after state and local governments floated $800 million in incentives to temp the automakers. Apparently good enough, the $1.6-billion project launched under the assumption that the first of two production lines would be operational by April of 2021. That date has been pushed back indefinitely as Toyota and Mazda assess the situation.
The current-generation Mazda 6 debuted with a shapely body that withstood the passage of time and handling attributes that elevated it above other front-drive, midsize rivals. Alas, the car dropped as the market was moving away traditional midsize sedans. Not helping its case, Mazda was slow to respond with improvements — like a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder, for example, or all-wheel drive that still hasn’t appeared.
Word is that the next Mazda 6 will correct all criticism of the current car, donning a new layout and propulsion. By the sounds of it, the next-gen 6 will be everything an enthusiast wants, but will there be anyone left to buy it?