This year’s back-to-school season has been a great one for Mazda in the U.S. On October 1, Mazda’s North American division revealed that September sales for 2015 were the best on record since 1994, when the company’s September sales were 30,735 units. This September, Mazda sold 25,660, for an increase of 6.8% from 2014.
The brand’s top sellers included the Mazda CX-5 and the company’s newly-minted CX-3. Starting at just over $25,000, the 2016 CX-3 offers 29 miles per gallon in the city, and 35 on the highway, with a 2.0 liter inline four-cylinder engine making 146 horsepower at 6,000 RPM. The Mazda CX-9 also enjoyed the best sales numbers since 2012, with 1,559 vehicles sold. The 2016 MX-5 and the Mazda 6 also had excellent sales numbers with year-over-year increases, the latter improving by 6.2%.
But perhaps the biggest breakout car for Mazda has been the MX-5 Miata, which is experiencing year-over-year increases of over 100% for months. You’d think a year-over-year increase of 127.1% would be a typo, but in reality, the MX-5 has been shipping hundreds more units than last year at this time.
Lancaster Mazda — on Manheim Pike in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania — sells new Mazda vehicles; in comments on October 9, staff at the dealership attributed most of the increase to a fresh redesign of the car this year. While sales for the Miata have always been strong, dealership reps said interest has been unusually high because of the next-generation MX-5 design.
In looking at these extremely bright sales numbers overall, Mazda leadership also points to the new SKYACTIV technology with fuel-efficient engine design, which contributed to more than 90% of all Mazdas sold this year. Mazda’s SKYACTIV uses principles like Homogenous Charge Compression Ignition or HCCI, as well as design changes to vehicle transmissions and injection systems, to deliver better fuel efficiency and performance.
Another auto maker having a great September was Korea’s Kia Motors. Kia called 2015’s spring and summer seasons the company’s “best first-half performance ever,” and numbers stayed strong with September sales of over 49,000 units, which is more than a 22% increase year-over-year. Kia staffers cited strong sales of the Soul and Optima vehicles; Kia sold 13,614 Kia Souls and 11,719 Optimas. Sorrento and Sedona sales were also strong.
In a way, these “dark horse” companies are presenting a stronger challenge to some of the bigger American auto names that have their own challenges to contend with. For example, there’s the highly publicized scandal over Volkswagen diesel emissions designs, as well as older issues like Toyota’s acceleration problem, along with a spate of recalls for vehicles from big American automakers.
For its part, Mazda, which offers a large volume of diesel vehicles outside the North American market, was quick to put out a statement on September 29 contending that the company would never cheat or misreport emissions rates for its vehicles. The fact that the company has not been under the magnifying glass thus far may have helped sales in general.
Winter will tell if Mazda’s relative popularity is more than just a momentary whim, but for now, dealers are doing a brisk business.