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Mazda Struggling to Meet Demand as Sales Surge

Japanese maker boosts production, waits for Mexican plant to open.

by on Sep.19, 2013

The 2014 Mazda3 is the maker's newest model to use Skyactive technology and the Kodo design language.

Mazda sales are surging, but short supplies of key vehicles are holding back the Japanese automaker’s growth in the U.S. market, officials claim.

The maker’s strong gains counter concerns that Mazda might face serious problems after the break-up of the little Japanese maker’s long-running alliance with Ford Motor Co. But several recent products have clicked well with U.S. consumers, and Mazda posted its best August U.S. sales in 10 years by selling 28,106 vehicles last month.

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Through August, sales were up 6.8%, barely keeping pace with overall growth in the U.S. auto market, however, and a dip from the 26.4% jump in Mazda’s volume in 2012. That slip is linked to challenges delivering enough product to the U.S., according Jeremy Barnes, Mazda North American Operations director of marketing and communications.

However, Mazda expects very strong sales during the fourth quarter as it rolls out the all-new 2014 Mazda3, which boasts a complete redesign inside and out, increased horsepower and better fuel economy.

“It should be very good,” Barnes said.

(Get a closer look at the new 2014 Mazda line. Click Here.)

The Mazda3, which began arriving in dealerships at the end of August, represents 40% of Mazda’s total volume in the U.S. so demand for the vehicle is expected to be robust. One drawback is that initially all of the Mazda3 models are being built in Japan. Next spring Mazda will open a new plant in Mexico that will also build the compact model, Barnes said.

Mazda operated a factory in the U.S. – a plant in the Detroit suburbs shared with Ford – until mid-2012. The joint venture broke up as Mazda shifted production of an all-new Mazda6 back to Japan.

Supplies of the Mazda6, which made its debut last winter, are relatively tight. Last month, sales increased by 167% over prior-year levels.

“Better than 60% of the inventory turns over every month,” Barnes said. “That’s phenomenal,”

Sales of the CX-5 also have been very strong. During August, the CX-5 had its best month ever as sales increased by 82.3%.

“We only have a 40-day supply,” he said.

In addition, Mazda’s push to promote the company’s SkyActiv Technology, with it lightweight and fuel-efficient powertrains and redesigned suspensions, is gaining traction and drawing in consumers, Mazda officials said.

The vehicles equipped with SkyActiv technology, such as the Mazda6 CX-5 and new Mazda3, accounted for 74.8% of all Mazdas sold in the U.S. in August. Mazda has announced to help support demand for the new technology it plans to increase production of SkyActiv transmissions and engines.

Meanwhile, Mazda North America also is awaiting delivery of the first diesel powered Mazda6 next spring, Barnes said.

(Click Hereto find out why Mazda is delaying its new diesel.)

But, as TheDetroitBureau.com reported this week, Mazda has decided to delay the introduction of the SkyActiv-D powertrain for about six months due to calibration issues. The maker claims that once it goes on sale it should deliver similar fuel economy to a comparable hybrid powertrain.

 

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