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Mazda Planning to Introduce New Diesel in 2015

Mazda6 gets the new powerplant: a company first.

by on Nov.22, 2013

The Mazda6 gets a diesel starting next spring.

After seeing its sales surge this year, Mazda is looking forward to another sold year of growth in 2014 by adding diesel power to its product line for the first time. The diesel-powered Mazda6 will join the maker’s lineup next spring, which is later than many observers had expected.

But James O’Sullivan, Mazda North America president and chief executive officer, explained the company elected to focus its marketing muscle on the Mazda3 first.

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The marketing campaign for the Mazda3 will start in earnest with a wave of in-theater advertising during the Christmas holiday season. Television commercials will follow after that, O’Sullivan said. (more…)

Corvette, Mazda3 Take Top Honors from Motor Press Guild

GM captures honor for second consecutive year; ATS won last year.

by on Nov.20, 2013

The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray took to honors, along with the Mazda3,at the Motor Press Guild's Innovation Vehicle of the Year Awards.

The new 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray and the 2013 Mazda3 walked away with top honors from the Los Angeles-based Motor Press Guild as the two winners of the organization’s Innovation Vehicle of the Year Award.

The Mazda3 walked off with award in the under $29,000 class while the Corvette Stingray took the accolade for the $29,000 and over category. It was the second year in a row a General Motors product won an award from MPG. The Cadillac ATS was named MPG’s first car of the year in 2012.

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The awards were decided by MPG’s journalist and analyst membership, which determined the winners by evaluating each car on innovation, technology, engineering, safety, environmental impact, price, affordability and value. (more…)

Mazda Previews SEMA Concepts

But mum’s the word when it comes to details.

by on Oct.29, 2013

Mazda sources have slipped over images of a handful of concepts coming to the SEMA Show.

We’ve been receiving plenty of preview material on the upcoming SEMA Show in Las Vegas, the annual aftermarket extravaganza likely to see 100 or more custom concepts from the major automakers – and even a few new production vehicles with Honda, notably, planning to unveil its updated 2014 Civic line.

But considering Mazda’s propensity for creative design we were excited to receive a packet of four images that, sources said, revealed the four concepts that will land on the Japanese maker’s SEMA stand.

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Unfortunately, our leaker reversed the normal course, providing pics with nary a word of what they reveal beyond differentiating between the Mazda3 and Mazda6 SEMA specials.

What’s to make of what we have in hand?  Well, to start with, one might note that after downplay its “zoom-zoom” tagline for a couple years, Mazda has begun replaying that familiar theme in its latest advertising.  No surprise.  (more…)

Little Mazda’s Big Breakthrough Could Revolutionize Engine Manufacturing

Japanese maker uses flexibility to compensate for economies of scale.

by on Oct.11, 2013

The new Mazda3 delivers up too 41 mpg with its 2.0-liter SkyActiv engine.

With its highway fuel economy estimated at 41 mpg, the new Mazda3 is one of the most efficient models in the U.S. compact segment, the maker giving much of the credit to its new SkyActiv-G powertrain.

Mazda is quickly shifting most of its products to the new SkyActiv engine family and is even on track to become the first Japanese maker to offer a diesel in the U.S. market when the SkyActive-D powertrain debuts early next year.  But while the Japanese maker is quick to point out the various technologies that help the various SkyActiv engines deliver the seemingly conflicting benefits of better performance and improved mileage, the real breakthrough may be in the way that the new motors are being produced.

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Untethered from its long-running relationship with Ford Motor Co., Mazda has had to completely rethink its business strategy, particularly at the manufacturing level. And when it comes to building engines it abandoned a traditional approach that required massive investments and yielded little flexibility.

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First Drive: 2014 Mazda3

Not your old econo-box.

by on Sep.20, 2013

The new 2014 Mazda3 is the latest model to pick up on the Kodo design language.

The Mazda3 has been around for a while now and familiarity has no doubt bred an array of preconceptions about the car.

With the launch of 2014 Mazda3 with SkyActiv technology, however, Mazda3 is going to force a lot of buyers to drop their pre-conceived notions about compact cars. The new Mazda3 is definitely not your aunt’s econobox.

Instead it’s sleek and nimble, as well as comfortable, efficient and versatile. In fact, the exterior design of the new Mazda3 — which carries on the distinctively sculpted Kodo design language the automaker has highlighted with recent concept vehicles — makes it one of the most stylish vehicles in a crowded segment.

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That’s no faint praise when you consider the alternatives include the Hyundai Elantra, Ford Focus, Honda Civic and the new Toyota Corolla.

But while some of those competitors are content with a single body style, the new Mazda3 will be offered in both four–door sedan and five-door hatchback form.

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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.

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First Drive: 2012 Mazda3 with Skyactiv

Impressive power but wrong tires hurt freeway handling.

by on Jul.19, 2012

Mazda's new 3 uses Skyactiv technology to increase fuel efficiency without sacrificing power.

Everyone who is fortunate enough to drive new cars and write reviews about them has their favorites. They may claim to objectively view every car that shows up in their driveway, but ultimately, they look forward to a week with that certain car. Their biggest worry becomes whether the automaker has done something to upset the delicate balance that makes a car great.

For us, that car has long been the Mazda3. Previous opportunities to drive the 3 – we’re referring to the regular version because the hot-rod MazdaSpeed 3 version is just too much of a torque-steering monster and doesn’t occupy the same place in our thoughts – revealed sublime handling, excellent ride and a sporty, well-designed and well-finished interior.

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But the need for automotive progress never stops as carmakers struggle to serve disparate masters.

It would seem that one of those masters – fuel economy – has driven Mazda to reduce the 3’s freeway handling prowess.

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First Drive: Mazda Skyactiv

Can Mazda deliver hybrid mileage without the hybrid?

by on Aug.12, 2011

The new Mazda CX-5 crossover will be the maker's first vehicle developed specifically to use the new Skyactiv system, though the Skyactiv powertrain will appear first on the 2012 Mazda3 update.

“We are a very small company,” says Kyoshi Fujiwara – again.  It’s a mantra repeated over and over by the Japanese engineer who has become something of the chief cook and bottle washer for Mazda’s ambitious Skyactiv project.

The far-reaching effort could be the make-it-or-break it for, yes, this very small company, which has largely severed its ties with Detroit giant Ford Motor Co.  Long known for going its own way with unusual technology – think Wankel rotary engine – Mazda is doing it again with Skyactiv, a system that it claims can deliver the fuel efficiency of a hybrid without the performance and price penalties.

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Early next year, Mazda will introduce the new Skyactiv-G gasoline engine on the updated Mazda3 sedan.  But the technology isn’t limited to just a new petrol powertrain, ala Ford’s EcoBoost.  With Skyactiv, Mazda claims to have re-thought the entire vehicle, coming up with both gasoline and diesel engines, advanced manual and automatic transmissions and lighter-weight platforms that further enhance its drive for improved fuel economy without sacrificing the company’s familiar zoom-zoom qualities.

TheDetroitBureau.com recently got a chance to take an in-depth look at the Skyactiv system and files this report.

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Mazda Debuts SkyActiv Powertrain With ’12 Mazda3

Maker bills drivetrain as hybrid alternative.

by on Apr.22, 2011

The 2012 Mazda3 will introduce Mazda's SkyActiv technology.

Mazda is making significant changes to its powertrain platform, starting with the 2012 Mazda 3 sedan and hatch grabbing the spotlight at the New York Auto Show. Subtle styling changes are in store, as well.

The grinning grille has a somewhat reduced happiness quotient, but the big news is that the 3 receives the first application of Mazda’s SKYACTIV technology.

SKYACTIV is the official name for a whole suite of technology and powertrain packages that aim to improve fuel economy – without having to resort to hybridization or related battery-based technologies.

Mazda's Minagi concept will return as the CX-5.

In the case of the 2012 Mazda3, SKYACTIV-G is the name of the game. This 2.0-liter four-cylinder direct-injection engine makes 155 horsepower and mates to either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. Available on both the sedan and hatchback models, the engine could produce up to 28 mpg city/40 mpg highway when paired with the automatic, according to Mazda.

The 148-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder and 167-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder carryover unchanged. So does the Mazdaspeed 3.

There are other changes, such as a stiffer body structure. But otherwise, outside the new engine and the slightly changed styling, the 3’s changes are evolutionary rather than revolutionary.

The car goes on sale this fall, and pricing will be announced closer to that time.

Mazda’s other big news was two-fold: The company expects to bring a diesel engine using SKYACTIV technology to the American market during the next year or so, and the company also plans to build the Minagi crossover SUV, which will be renamed the CX-5.  (For more, Click Here.)

Details are sparse, but we expect to see this CUV in calendar 2012 sporting SKYACTIV engines (including, perhaps, a diesel) and available 6-speed manual and automatic transmissions.

Right now, the Minagi is a styling exercise, but with the exception of a few outlandish bits, it looks showroom-ready. We expect to see it positioned below the larger CX-7 and CX-9 crossovers in Mazda’s fleet.

Mazda Will Keep Zoom-Zooming With New Agency

Popular image campaign will survive switch.

by on Aug.23, 2010

Think of Zoom-Zoom as part of Mazda's "DNA," says Jim O'Sullivan.

Though it’s abandoning its long-time advertising agency, don’t expect Mazda to walk away from the popular Zoom-Zoom tagline that has made the Japanese maker such a standout in the otherwise crowded automotive marketing space.

If anything, the familiar campaign — meant to position Mazda as a more performance-oriented marque among mainstream brands – will become even more critical, what with the Japanese carmaker looking to boost its American market share by as much as 50%.

“Zoom-Zoom is not going away,” Jim O’Sullivan, president of Mazda’s North American sales subsidiary, tells TheDetroitBureau.com.  “We’re not doing away with our creative and brand positioning,” despite the decision to leave the Detroit-based agency, Doner, for MindShare, a division of the global advertising powerhouse, WPP.  “It’s our DNA,” O’Sullivan contends.

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The decision to drop Doner came as something of a surprise considering the successful collaboration between the agency and automaker.  There’s been plenty of debate about why Mazda made the move, though O’Sullivan insists it was not driven by the corporate parent, in Japan.

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