In an interview with Mazda Motor Corporation president and CEO Takashi Yamanouchi, the Globe and Mail quotes the Mazda boss confirming that the subcompact Mazda2 (Demio in other markets) will be sold in Canada.
“I’ve just decided,” Yamanouchi told the Globe and Mail.
While it would appear to the average consumer like a simple decision, with no subcompact model yet offered on the Canadian market, it appears that the brand’s executive team has wrestled with the decision for some time.
“There has been a lot of discussion about that,” added Yamanouchi. “There is concern it would cannibalize Mazda3 sales. We need it to be incremental.”
Dealer pressure to offer variety to its buyers eventually won out, critical in a market that sees 50-percent of all passenger car sales comprised of subcompact and compact models.
No body-style has been spoken of, although a hatchback is expected. Such a move would also help differentiate the model from Ford’s Fiesta, which is built on the Mazda2 architecture. Ford may offer a hatchback too, but for the time being has only announced a four-door sedan variant.
Why Canada and not the US? First, Mazda’s share of the Canadian market equals about 5-percent, whereas the brand doesn’t even convert 2-percent of American buyers to the zoom-zoom way of life. Part of the automaker’s success is a general penchant for smaller more economical vehicles in Canada, something Mazda does very well. The need for entry-level models is critically important in Canada, so much so that automakers have gone to great lengths in order to satisfy the unique Canadian demand.
Acura has long made a rebranded Honda Civic now dubbed CSX, while Volkswagen reincarnated the previous generation Golf and Jetta models with City monikers and dropped their prices significantly in order to get in on the action. Toyota brought its Yaris to Canada first, dubbing it Echo Hatchback before the current Yaris became available on both sides of the 49th parallel, while Pontiac’s G3/Wave and the Suzuki Sprint+ variant have been part of Canada’s small car staple for years. Even smart’s fortwo first made it in Canada before taking on the US. So why haven’t other automakers caught on?
Oftentimes there are good reasons for car companies to abstain from a booming market segment despite what looks like an obvious error in judgment, and the reasons often include safety and/or emissions regulations not being met. Such issues have kept Ford’s Ka and Fiesta from entering North American markets, as well as Mitsubishi’s Colt subcompact, just to name a few. When it came time for Mazda to redesign its popular Mazda2 hatchback, the Canadian division made sure its needs were considered so that the brand could gain a footing in one of the fastest growing automotive segments in the country.
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