Mazda Seeks to Reclaim Lost U.S. Market Share

Mazda Seeks to Reclaim Lost U.S. Market Share

The auto maker’s new U.S. chief says a marketing push will be used to drive sales. Although he declines to reveal details, he makes clear turning to the home office in Japan for assistance is out of the question.

VANCOUVER, BC, Canada – Mazda has to step it up in the U.S., as sales have failed to keep pace with the overall market, a key executive says.

Mazda’s U.S. deliveries through July totaled 143,162 units, a modest 4.9% year-over-year increase, according to Ward’s data. In comparison, the total U.S. light-vehicle market increased 10.8% in the same timeframe.

Robert Davis, recently appointed to the new position of senior vice president-U.S. operations, says he’s not happy with the Hiroshima -based auto maker’s performance in the U.S.

“At the end of last year, we lost some share and have been working on regaining the momentum and stopping the loss,” he tells Ward’s at a media event here. “Now it’s time to get to work and apply some resources to growing (share).”

Mazda’s share of the U.S. light-vehicle market through July was 1.9%, down from 2.1% year-ago, according to Ward’s data.

Davis says a marketing push will be used to drive sales. Although he declines to reveal details on marketing plans, he makes it clear turning to the home office in Japan for assistance is out of the question.

“I’ve told my colleagues I don’t have the right to ask for more (resources) right now,” he says. “I say, ‘Let me see what I’ve got and how best I can use it, and if I need more we’ll talk about it.’

“My goal is to make sure the marketing we’re doing now is right,” Davis adds.

While Mazda does have a sales target in the U.S., Davis says he’s not at liberty to disclose it.

Mazda’s U.S. lineup consists of models that have underperformed and others that have pulled their weight.

Top performers include the CX-7 and CX-9 cross/utility vehicles, which through July have seen sales rise 20.6% and 12.9%, respectively, over prior-year.

Underperformers include the Mazda6 midsize sedan, with deliveries off 15.5% through July, and the Mazda3 C-car, which saw sales fall 7.9% in the same time frame.

Dealers “aren’t happy,” Davis says, although they were pleased with Mazda’s 4.1% overall sales increase last month.

“They like the direction and the leadership, but they just want to know (what’s going on),” he says. “So we’ve been communicating instead of just sitting in the foxhole.”

When asked where Mazda plans to get additional U.S. market share, Davis says he doesn’t care.

“I just want my fair share, and I don’t care who I take it from. I just want to get it.”

Mazda hopes for a shot in the arm from a new line of powertrains, chassis and body components dubbed Skyactiv. The first Skyactiv technology, a 2.0L direct-injection gasoline engine, is set to debut in the ’12 Mazda3 in October.

Davis says Skyactiv not only will feature refined technologies, but also will be integrated into Mazda marketing.

“Skyactiv will be a marketing term, and you’ll see a (Skyactiv badge) on the back of the new Mazda3,” he says.

“It’s been consumer-tested and done well. Every vehicle will have Skyactiv, including the Miata.”

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