Mazda, it seems to me at least, is a company with a serious identity crisis. For years, their marketing efforts promoted the fun-to-drive aspect of the underdog Japanese brand. No matter which model you bought, Mazda emphasized that it had “the soul of a sports car”. This was easy enough to believe behind the wheel of an RX-8 or MX-5, which really were sports cars, but it got a bit harder to buy into as you went up the product line. Try as hard as you want, but you’re never going to convince a car enthusiast that the Mazda 5 or the CX-9 has any sports car DNA in its blood.
Despite this, Mazda’s CEO Takashi Yamanouchi is confident the brand can double sales in the United States over the next five years. One reason is their SkyActiv development strategy, which pairs uber-efficient gasoline or diesel motors with weight reduced cars. Mazda claims to be able to achieve hybrid-like fuel economy with the Sky G gasoline motor, and promises a next generation Miata that is both more powerful and more fuel efficient. Furthermore, Yamanouchi wants to take the brand more upscale than it’s currently positioned, ensuring a higher margin for each vehicle sold.
It’s possible if Mazda’s engineering matches their vision, but the automaker has a rough road ahead of them. Long term partner Ford has divested the majority of their stake in Mazda, which may or may not help the brand in the long run. Their new styling language, called ‘Kodo’, is a lot less controversial than the outgoing Nagare ‘stoned guppy’ theme, which should help bring customers back to showrooms. A new RX-7 is rumored to be in the works (although slightly behind schedule), so Mazda appears to be making progress towards their goal. I wish them the best.
Source: 4 Wheels News