By Lawrence Papoff
The past year wasn’t a memorable one for Japanese automakers at least when it came to sales. First came the tsunami in March, then floods in Thailand hit parts plants further hampering production and sales. And to add to their woes, the yen faced an unfavourable exchange rate when compared to greenback and the loonie.
The cumulative effect for Mazda Canada and its dealers was a 12-per cent drop in 2011 sales from 2010 as of November (Toyota and Honda dipped nine and 13 per cent respectively over the same time period).
By comparison, Nissan sales were up two per cent.
But Mazda is optimistic. It’s looking forward to another wave, a sales wave, said Mazda Canada’s freshly minted executive V-P, Koreeda Shusuke. The automaker is counting on the CX-5, its latest entry in the small truck/CUV market, a segment where it hasn’t made much of an impression.
“Since 2009, there has been a 6.7-per cent shift from passenger cars to light trucks,” Shusuke said. So the automaker wants to be there with the CX-5.
He said Mazda stats, supplied by an independent analyst, predict the trend will continue despite a 1.5-per cent shift back to cars. Look for light truck sales to make up 54.1 per cent of the markets in 2012 with sedans at 45.9 per cent.
The light truck is also popular in the rest of North America and Europe as well.
That’s where the CX-5 comes in, Mazda reasons. Size-wise, it fits the category. The automaker’s new SKYACTIV technology, which made a partial debut in the Mazda3, should improve fuel efficiency of all Mazda models by 30 per cent by 2015 and make the CX-5 the segment leader at the pump, he predicted.
Adding to that is what the automaker calls KODO or “Soul of Motion” design philosophy.
The CX-5 will be smaller than the CX-7 but have more cargo space and a useful 40-20-40 flat folding rear set, which Mazda says is a first in the class.
Shusuke predicted other firsts such as a redesigned A pillar and door mirrors that help increase driver side-view vision, AWD in all trims and blind spot monitoring.
Mazda Canada says it hasn’t released sales goals for the vehicle, but the CX-5 is expected to be the automaker’s second-best Canadian seller after the Mazda3.
The vehicle will be in dealers‘ showrooms in the spring.