We recently lamented Mazda's decision not to bring their new MPV minivan to the States. Mazda helped explain the decision by saying that minivan marketing practices put too much downward pressure on prices and therefore limit profits for automakers. We think Mazda could reverse that trend by doing what we called for years ago: adding some "Zoom-Zoom" to the segment with a better handling, lighter-on-its-feet shuttle like the new MPV. Mazda has instead decided to focus on crossovers, much like every other manufacturer with the exception of Chrysler. Apparently SUV/CUV buyers will still accept the premium pricing that nets higher profitability for the automakers. There may be a fly in that ointment, however.
Story continues after the jump.
[Source: Automotive News, sub req]
Mazda dealers are already complaining because their newest CUV, the CX-9, is being debuted with a huge national ad campaign to coincide with a regional program (a first for Mazda). The rollout will see a special lease deal of $349 a month for 39 months with $2,000 down. While it will probably help Mazda make a name for itself with this attractive Ford Edge derivative, dealers are questioning the decision.
Some think Mazda's just fine playing the niche role and maximizing profit on a smaller number of vehicles sold. Slow and steady wins the race, as the story goes. They think Mazda should follow the lead of Honda, Toyota and Nissan and establish their perceived value levels early on. They don't want to be seen as "the cheap-deal brand anymore." A group of California dealers, in particular, is trying to keep the regional outlets from over-promoting the offer and cheapening the brand. They don't think there's a need to "Zoom-Zoom" to a high sales figure right off the bat.
While getting into one of these nifty new three-row CUVs at a lower monthly payment sounds great to us, we understand the thinking and agree that it can probably sell quite well without the incentives. We'll keep you posted on how it shakes out.