Mazda Motor Corp. is known for the sporty handling of its models but it now wants to be recognized for more than that as it aims to make "real-world" fuel-efficiency a main brand attribute. Mazda is doing this in hopes of raising U.S. volume by 74% by the middle of the decade from 2010. Robert Davis, senior vice president of U.S. operations, said that by next week, Mazda will start selling the revamped Mazda3 compact cars in the U.S.
These cars feature a Skyactiv engine and transmission that boost fuel mileage by 18%. He said that cars that have the powertrain could get 40 mpg in highway driving without compromising acceleration. Davis explained that it would be unacceptable for the car to offer 40 mpg but its performance suffers.
He added that unlike its rivals, the Mazda3 provides improved fuel efficiency without having to remove the spare tire or fit in a smaller fuel tank to reduce weight.
Mazda is hoping that this new engine, which will join its CX-5 compact crossover that will arrive next year, along with the diesel models that will come by 2013, will hasten U.S. growth for the brand that falls behind Hyundai Motor Co., Kia Motors Corp. and Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd.'s Subaru when it comes to volume.
In 2010, the total U.S. sales of Mazda reached 229,566. With its current pace through September, it’s expected to surpass 250,000 units this year. Mazda has revised its annual sales target and now aims to achieve sales of 400,000 units by the middle of the decade.
It was in 1986 that Mazda's U.S. sales volume peaked at around 339,000. Hyundai wants consumers to perceive its models as among the most fuel-efficient in the market. It claims that the Elantra compact, Accent subcompact and Sonata Hybrid sedan could all achieve 40 mpg in highway driving. [source: BusinessWeek]