Lack of consumer demand for the smallest of all cars is due in large part to low gas prices. As a result, no Mazda2 model is planned for the US market. Meanwhile, an all-new CX-3 crossover arrives this fall.
The smallest of all cars sold in the US occupy the A- and B-Segments, respectively. Also known as mini cars and subcompacts, these two segments have long suffered from tepid demand, due in large part to consumer interest in anything larger, beginning with compact models of all kinds — sedans, hatchbacks and crossovers.
Over the past year, low gas prices have also contributed to a shift away from A-Segment and B-Segment models. Moreover, for those consumers still placing a priority on fuel efficiency, models such as Chevrolet Cruze Eco are getting 42 mpg on the highway, offering more interior room and a wider selection of amenities in the process. Quite frankly, there is little reason for consumers to shop at the bottom end of the market.
Mazda2: Four-Year Model Run
Mazda, long a leader in small car innovation and fuel economy, no longer offers a car smaller than the Mazda3 in the US. Its previous Mazda2 model, introduced in 2011, had a four-year run before it was canceled following the 2014 model year. Mazda2 US sales came in at just 13,615 units in 2014, up 15.8 percent over the previous year, but well below the near 105,000 units for the compact Mazda3 line.
Last July, Mazda took the wraps off of the fourth-generation Mazda2, a model based on the Hazumi concept shown at the Geneva Motor Show the previous March. Notably, the Mazda2 is the best-selling car in Japan and has found its way into 2.4 million homes since its 1996 introduction.
2016 Mazda CX-3
Plans to bring the new model — built in Salamanca, Mexico — to the United States have been canceled, according to a story published in Automotive News over the weekend. The publication spoke with Robert Davis, senior vice president of Mazda’s US operations about its plans. Davis explained that the combination of low gas prices and weak demand will keep the Mazda2 out of the US market, although it will be sold in Puerto Rico. That means the PR-bound model complies with the same environmental and safety standards required in the states. Theoretically, Mazda could change its mind and import its smallest model to the continental US in short order.
Strong Global Demand
Another matter is also playing out — global demand for the Mazda2. Whereas the Mazda2 is receiving scant interest in the US, consumers elsewhere are drawn to it. Indeed, instead of diverting much-needed inventory to the US, Mazda can fulfill strong demand for its smallest product elsewhere.
American consumers fixated on the latest generation Mazda2 don’t have to go to Puerto Rico to buy one. A four-door hatchback, badged as a Scion iA, will hit the market this September. It represents just one part of an expanding agreement between Toyota and Mazda whereby the two Japanese automakers are collaborating on a number of projects, including engines and transmissions.
Mazda CX-3 Crossover
Despite the paucity of interest in its smallest model, Mazda is going with another type of vehicle — a subcompact crossover utility vehicle — to expand its US product lineup. That model is the five-passenger Mazda CX-3, based on the Mazda2 platform and advancing the same KODO-Soul of Motion design language of four other Mazda models, including the CX-5 compact CUV.
Available this fall, the CX-3 arrives just as the segment is gaining strength, a model that will compete with the Nissan Juke, Kia Soul, Jeep Renegade, Fiat 500X, Chevrolet Trax and Honda HR-V for customers. Notwithstanding its small size, the Mazda CX-3 offers the high profile and roomy cabin evidential in this emerging segment and a more profitable price point for that. Thus, instead of placing a slow-selling model such as the Mazda2 in dealer showrooms, Mazda has chosen a more profitable vehicle line that dealers should have little trouble selling.
See Also — Sport Ute: 2016 Mazda CX-3
Photos courtesy of Mazda Motors.