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Hazumi Concept “Foreshadows” Maker’s Next Mazda2

Latest SkyActive design.

by on Mar.04, 2014

The new Hazumi Concept is expected to receive relatively minor tweaks before transforming into the next Mazda2.

Over the years, we have learned to pay close attention when Mazda rolls out a new concept vehicle.  Chances are that we’ll see the design again, as even the most extreme show cars tend to have a clear influence on the Japanese maker’s upcoming production models.

So it seems to be with the new Mazda Harumi Concept making its debut outing at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show. The little prototype is, according to the maker, a “foreshadowing” of what’s to come when it launches its next-generation Mazda2 minivar.

What a Concept!

In sharp contrast to some of its more conservative Asian rivals, Mazda has been pushing the limits of design and using its show cars to gauge both media and consumer reaction.  And if the Harumi is any indication, it could strike a responsive chord with those who’ve grown tired of the formula that has long contended that buyers on a budget must settle for bland and boring econoboxes.


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.


Mazda Adds Zoom-Zoom to the Assembly Line

"Mother plant" in Hofu churns out Mazda6 sedan at a prodigious pace.

by on Aug.28, 2013

Mazda6 sedans roll down the Hofu line.

It’s long billed itself as the “zoom-zoom” car company, but it’s not the performance of products like the little Mazda roadster or the new Mazda6 sedan that has the Japanese maker crowing this week.

Expected by some industry observers to face serious problems after the break-up of its long-running relationship with Ford Motor Co., Mazda had been delivering plenty of surprises lately, including a solid profit for the most recent quarter.

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And the maker says a key ingredient has been finding a way to ramp up the speed of its key assembly plant in Hofu to a pace even competitors like Toyota have to admire and envy. The nearly 31-year-old Hofu plant — which celebrated the production of its 10 millionth vehicle this week – is now rolling them off the line at an industry-leading rate of one every 54 seconds.

By comparison, Toyota Motor Corp., whose manufacturing system has long been considered an industry benchmark, takes anywhere from 57 to 115 seconds to roll out a new vehicle.


Automakers Divided Over Bio-Diesel

Mercedes-Benz stops selling diesel models in Illinois.

by on Jul.26, 2013

At 46 mpg highway, the new Chevy Cruze Turbo Diesel gives even hybrids a run for their (gas) money.

It’s the stuff of dreams for some environmentalists: a fuel you can make from renewable sources as diverse as algae and used cooking oil. But for some automakers, bio-diesel is a nightmare so worrisome one major maker has pulled out of the Illinois market after lawmakers there approved incentives meant to boost demand for bio-diesel.

Mercedes-Benz isn’t the only maker worried that bio-diesel could have a downside far different from the green image proponents present. The German maker warns that if poorly blended, the fuel could gunk up its engines and worsen air quality. That led the maker to recently stop selling diesel models like the new E250 BlueTec diesel in the land of Lincoln.

A Good Investment!

Illinois lawmakers recently approved a plan to drop the state’s 6.25% sales tax on fuel with a bio-diesel content of at least 10%. Mercedes, which has been one of the strongest proponents of diesel fuel in the U.S. market, has set a limit of 5% biodiesel content, or B5. (more…)

Mazda Confirms Diesel Coming for 2014 Mazda6

New sedan launching with SkyActiv gas package.

by on Nov.29, 2012

Mazda will offer both a small gas engine and a new diesel for the 2014 Mazda6 sedan.

Mazda will launch a diesel version of its new midsize Mazda6 sedan during the second half of 2013, the maker confirmed during an LA Auto Show news conference – and while the maker won’t release official figures until closer to launch, a well-placed source said the maker is looking to match hybrid-level fuel economy numbers with the package.

Mazda is the latest manufacturer to announce plans to enter the diesel market, a niche largely populated by European makers, such as Audi which earlier announced plans to add four new diesels to its U.S. line-up next year.

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The new Mazda6 itself was earlier previewed during an introduction in, of all places, Moscow over the summer. The sedan is an example of the Japanese maker’s aggressive new Kodo design language which features a low-slung nose and aggressive wheel bulges intended to deliver a sense of power and agility.


Ford, Toyota, Mazda and Dodge Square off for Green Car Honors

Hybrids face challenge from conventional gas technology.

by on Oct.25, 2012

Green car organizers note the new Ford Fusion shows how conventional and battery tech are both able to meet greener targets.

While hybrids and electric vehicles may be the very definition of “green” technology to the average American motorist, the organizers and judges of the Green Car of the Year award have a somewhat different take.

As their latest list of finalists for the annual honor underscores, there are plenty of high-mileage, low-emissions alternatives vying for consumer awareness.

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“This is an exciting time” for those looking for greener technology, suggested Ron Cogan, publisher of Green Car Journal. The magazine has run the Green Car of the Year program for eight years in conjunction with the LA Auto Show. The award will be presented this year on November 29th.


First Look: 2013 Mazda CX-9

A new face for new crossover.

by on Sep.18, 2012

The 2013 Mazda CX-9 adopts the maker's latest Kodo design language.

Mazda is rapidly replacing the older members of its line-up, introducing a sophisticated new design language while also rolling out the new, high-mileage SkyActiv technology.  Next up for a major makeover is the 2013 Mazda CX-9.

The new crossover will make its debut at the upcoming Australian International Auto Show, in Sydney, but should reappear on this side of the Pacific soon after that mid-October preview.

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The most notable update for 2013 is the switch from Mazda’s earlier Nagare design language – which seemed to give the maker’s products an exaggerated smile – to the newer, sleeker Kodo language first seen in concept form at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show.


First Look: 2014 Mazda6

From Russia with love.

by on Jul.25, 2012

Da, new Mazda6 making Moscow debut.

While most makers like to use key auto shows like Paris, Geneva, Detroit, Tokyo or even Beijing to reveal major new products Mazda has developed an unusual fascination with Moscow where it has introduced several products in recent years – and where it is today pulling the covers off the much anticipated 2014 Mazda6 sedan.

While the Japanese maker has already launched several other important new models this year — including the updated Mazda3 and the all-new CX-5 crossover – the 2014 Mazda6 is arguably the most critical for a company struggling to find its way after the effective break-up of its long partnership with Ford Motor Co.

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The Mazda6 will go up against perhaps the toughest assortment of competitors ever seen in the midsize sedan market – everything from the recently updated Toyota Camry to newer offerings like the Nissan Altima, Honda Accord, Ford Fusion and Chevrolet Malibu – so it will have to score in every category, from design to fuel-economy, performance to functionality.


Mazda Reveals First Mazda6 Teaser

Is this Mazda’s make-it-or-break-it car?

by on Jul.11, 2012

Mazda does a slow striptease with its critical new, 2014 Mazda6 sedan.

Every so often, a carmaker’s future comes to depend upon the success – or failure – of a single product.  The original, 1986 Ford Taurus is one of the best examples.  Could the next-generation Mazda6 fall into that group?  Here’s a first teaser image of the new sedan.

While the Japanese maker does have a number of other important offerings none feeds a more important segment of the market.  And no product will mark a more critical transition for Mazda, which has abandoned its long-running joint venture with Ford in Flat Rock, Michigan, moving production of the next Mazda6 back to Japan.

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The third product to share the maker’s new SkyActiv technology, the 2014 Mazda6 will also face the challenge of coming to market right after the launch of updated entries from key competitors – starting with the 2012 Toyota Camry remake and running through 2013 with the new Nissan Altima, Honda Accord, Chevrolet Malibu and, from former ally Ford, an all-new Fusion.


End of an Era: Mazda Building Last Rotary Engine

Gone (for now)...but not forgotten.

by on Jun.28, 2012

Mazda briefly stretched out the rotary engine's final run with production of the special-edition RX-8 Spirit.

It has been a mainstay of the brand’s powertrain line-up for more than four decades but in the coming days Mazda will produce the last of its one-popular rotary engines as it halts production of the RX-8 sports car.

The rotary, also known as a Wankel, for its inventor, helped make the Hiroshima-based automaker – but also nearly destroyed it, as well, when a series of major design flaws were discovered leading to endemic early engine failures. But while improvements in the design allowed Mazda to maintain the rotary for quite some time the engine just couldn’t keep up with today’s fast-rising fuel economy standards.

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“Production of the RX-8 will end, but the rotary engine will live on as an important part of Mazda’s spirit,” said Mazda President Takashi Yamanouchi, in a prepared statement.

The rotary engine was developed by German engineer Felix Wankel just after World War II, but it took until the 1960s before automakers began taking a serious look at the technology.