Mazda launching subcompact SUV to tap growing home market
TOKYO -- Mazda Motor will begin selling a subcompact sport utility vehicle in Japan within the year, with plans to increase its domestic SUV offerings from the current one model to three by 2015.
The SUV segment is one of the few bright spots in Japan's auto market, with sales of such vehicles climbing 7.2% on the year in 2013 while overall sales remained flat.
The new model will be developed based on the Demio subcompact, which is set for a complete overhaul this summer. The SUV will share design similarities with the CX-5, Mazda's only SUV sold in Japan, and come optional with a fuel-efficient diesel engine.
The most affordable model will be priced between 1.5 million yen ($14,523) and 2 million yen. Mazda aims to target a new customer segment by setting the price lower than that of the CX-5, which sells for more than 2 million yen. The automaker also plans to sell the vehicle in Europe and emerging markets, where subcompacts are popular.
Mazda will also launch its CX-9 large SUV, which it sells in North America and Australia, in Japan as early as 2015. The vehicle has three rows of seats and accommodates up to seven people. It is particularly popular in North America, where people tend to prefer larger vehicles. But its size is the reason the car has not been sold in Japan, where roads are generally narrower and parking spaces smaller.
The CX-9 was unveiled seven years ago and is scheduled to be fully remodeled. Mazda will use the makeover as an opportunity to introduce the vehicle in Japan.
The subcompact and the CX-9 will adopt Mazda's proprietary SkyActiv environmental technology.