Japan: Mazda’s most important launch for the year bets it all on diesel image

Mazda Motor Corporation unveiled on Friday in Japan the recently released CX-3 compact sport utility vehicle and will only offer diesel versions for the domestic car market.

Japan’s Mazda, an automaker that has never been among the top tiers but always managed to have beloved identity around the globe, counts the compact SUV as its most important launch of the year. For Japan, the automaker is gambling a lot – betting that the army of hybrid petrol-electric buyers would be persuaded to switch to diesel instead. “In Japan, more and more people are choosing to drive diesels,” comments Masamichi Kogai, Chief Executive of Japan’s fifth largest carmaker. The CEO added that diesel engines offer more power and torque – counting this as a key selling point for large models, including the compact SUV.

Mazda hopes to ride the small but expanding segment of the global auto market, with Kogai envisioning the compact SUV sector double in size by 2020, as competition becomes more intensive among automakers. Mazda has been fighting to promote diesel engines in Japan – the brand’s second largest auto market after the United States – but the fact is the powertrain only accounts for almost 3 percent of passenger car sales – just 79,000 diesel-powered cars were delivered in Japan last year. The engine variant has a particularly lingering image problem in the country, though Mazda says any inconvenient has since been eliminated, itself developing advanced technology that lowers emissions, noise and vibrations.

Via Reuters