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Mazda aims to replicate Australian sales success in America with ambitious new 2026 target


American-specific, American-made models to be key to reaching Mazda’s bullish goal of 450,000 annual sales in North America by 2026

Japanese carmaker Mazda has detailed its plans to ramp up its sales in North America and to shift over 450,000 vehicles per year by 2026.

While Mazda has seen considerable success in Australia, where it ranked as the second best-selling car manufacturer in 2021, it remains a relatively small player in the high-volume US market. 

Mazda has enjoyed considerable success in Australia

Mazda sold a total of 332,756 cars and SUVs in the US in 2021, an increase of 19.2 percent over its 2020 results but was still adrift of Toyota who became the best-selling car manufacturer in the country by shifting over 2.3 million units.

The new goal of 450,000 would add another third to Mazda’s overall volume within just four years, with the brand’s new Alabama-built, ruggedly-styled CX-50 midsize SUV key to achieving the growth target.

For context, Mazda is relatively gigantic in Australia, where the brand sold 101,119 vehicles in Australia last year – one-third of its American sales despite Australia having a population seven times smaller.

Alabama factory to let Mazda focus on American tastes

Mazda has started production of the America-specific CX-50 SUV in Huntsville, Alabama, in a large new factory that it shares with Toyota.

It plans to build over 150,000 CX-50s per year in the recently opened factory, but the focus on the left-hand-drive US market means it will not be sold in Australia. The facility also produces the Toyota Corolla Cross small SUV on a separate production line.

Mazda CX-50 2022 Alabama
Mazda has built a factory in Alabama that will build 150,000 CX-50s per year

Mazda’s global senior managing executive officer Yashiro Aoyama, who oversees the brand’s marketing, sales and customer service strategy told Automotive News that it saw great potential in the US market.

“We expect the U.S. to give us more constant, robust growth into the future,” he said.

The Japanese brand has become known for what it calls an ‘inchworm’ strategy of incrementally improving its products within a model’s lifecycle.

Larger and more premium vehicles

Mazda announced a significant expansion of its SUV portfolio last year based around a new Large Product Architecture (LPA), a platform designed around longitudinal rear-wheel drive layouts (and optional AWD) and inline six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines.

LPA is set to sit beneath a suite of midsize and large SUVs, commencing with the CX-60 that was revealed in March. The CX-60 and CX-80 will be narrow-bodies, relatively speaking, designed for European customers, while the broader CX-70 and CX-90 will be destined for North America.

The CX-90 is expected to make its debut in 2023 and offer a new rival to more premium vehicles such as the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GLE and Audi Q7.

Mazda unveiled the CX-60 earlier this year

Aoyama plans to boost profitability through the line-up of more premium vehicles by opting for larger straight-six engines that traditionally attract higher prices.

Mazda unveiled the 3.3-litre diesel engine and 3.0-litre turbo-petrol engine with the CX-60 alongside a 2.5-litre four-cylinder plug-in hybrid that aims to offer greater fuel efficiency.

“U.S. customer requirements are very simple. When they become more affluent, they require a more expensive vehicle with high output,” Aoyama said. 

“So we would like to pay respect to this tendency to prepare higher-output vehicles and a higher-priced portfolio. It’s a very simple correlation,” he said. 

Mazda will also broaden its electric car portfolio when it debuts its dedicated EV architect in 2025 known as the Skyactiv Scalable Architecture which will likely serve as the basis of a wide range of vehicles.

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