Like just about every other auto publication we've seen, we loved the way the Mazda3 drove when we reviewed it a few months ago, but those glowing reviews apparently aren't helping its sales. The new compact may be falling victim to a sales war between the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic, with the newcomer getting squeezed out by those with more established names and bigger marketing budgets.
According to Automotive News, Mazda3 sales have fallen every month since last August, and its sales are down 27 percent in the first two months of 2014. It certainly isn't helping that the entire compact segment is down five percent this year as well.
The biggest problem for the new model seems to be its price compared to rivals. Mazda is not offering the incentives that are on the hood of competitors. With the previous generation, the company offered more than $2,700 on the hood to move them out, but the current model only carries about $1,233 in markdowns, according to AN. "We are not chasing sales volume; we are chasing profit," says Eric Booth, Senior Manager of Public Relations at Mazda USA.
There is hope on the horizon, though. Mazda's factory in Mexico will build 10,000 Mazda3s a month by June. "The Mexican plant will help Mazda profitability," said industry analyst Stephanie Brinley of IHS Automotive to Autoblog. Also, keep in mind that the automaker has about half as many dealers as Toyota or Honda. Brinley said that the 3 doesn't have to match the volume of the Corolla to be a success, but it "doesn't want to get lost in the noise," she said.
If the Mazda wants the 3 to keep up, it will need to find a way to either price the car more competitively or show customers why it's worth the extra cash over the Corolla and Civic. It's quite a challenge.