Mazda is looking to double its annual sales numbers in the U.S. in just four years, according to CEO Takashi Yamanouchi. The plan is to move the brand more upmarket and to introduce a new 2.2-liter diesel to the U.S. market.
Yamanouchi told Automotive News that “if we make ordinary cars for the mass market, there is no reason for us to exist.” Instead, Mazda will look to move upmarket to a niche that’s being called “Japan premium” that would slot Mazda into a similar market position to where Saab had once been – more than mass market, but not a full-fledged luxury brand.
The plan is to start with the 2014 Mazda 6 sedan (pictured here), which makes its North American debut later this week at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Mazda wants to leverage its stylish designs and its new in-car and powertrain technologies to help position it above its current rivals.
At the L.A. show, the company will also introduce its twin-turbocharged 2.2-liter Skyactiv clean-diesel I-4 for the North American market – the first time in a long time that Japanese automaker has offered an oil-burning engine here. We can assume that the automaker hopes the diesel option will help align it better with premium diesel options from Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi and less with the hybrid-loving Toyota and Honda. In the European-spec CX-5, that oil-burning mill is good for 173 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, but we’ll discover the official U.S. figures later this week.
On top of the new technologies and more dashing designs, Mazda is also focusing on upgrading customer service at its dealerships to help imbue a premium feel to the brand experience.
Mazda hopes all this will help it achieve Yamanouchi’s sales goal of 400,000 units in the U.S. by 2016. That’s a sizeable task, given that the automaker has sold just 228,104 vehicles through the first ten months of this year. AN reports that the company is expecting to move about 280,000 units through its fiscal year ending in March. To help build those sales numbers, Mazda is planning a slew of new or revised models in the next few years, including an all-new Miata that will share its underpinnings with a re-envisioned Alfa Romeo Spider. It is also working on construction of a new plant in Mexico where the Mazda2, Mazda3, and a 2-based Toyota subcompact will be built.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)