Mazda’s American EV was a flop. Could these Chinese Mazdas be more popular?

Mazda’s American EV was a flop. Could these Chinese Mazdas be more popular?
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There’s no sugar-coating the truth: the Mazda MX-30 was a flop. Mazda’s first EV sold in the U.S. had some endearing elements, but it sold in double-digit amounts and had a number of unforgivable flaws. Since then, it’s been crickets other than some vague assurances that EVs are in development. The company does have a few PHEVs on sale here, at least. But in China, EVs are red hot and almost every Western company doing business there has some cooking. Mazda, for example, showed off two electrified vehicles at the Beijing auto show, including the EZ-6 sedan and the Arata SUV concept.

Note that Mazda is hedging bets, even in China. The EZ-6 will be produced as both a pure EV and also as a PHEV, while the handsome Arata isn’t close enough to production for Mazda to pin down what will power it. Details on both are light, in any event. What we do know is tantalizing, however.

For one, the EZ-6 is a sedan, and an attractive one at that. Moreover, it will be rear-wheel-drive, and its EV variant will have 50:50 weight distribution. We don’t know much about the powertrains themselves, but given Mazda’s focus on driving dynamics in even its less-sporty offerings makes us hopeful that the EZ-6 might drive as nicely as it looks.

Mazda’s American EV was a flop. Could these Chinese Mazdas be more popular?
Mazda’s American EV was a flop. Could these Chinese Mazdas be more popular?

And it’s a looker, too. While its headlights are somewhat generic, the big grille—flanked by a moat of deeply inset, contrasting trim—is very Mazda. The flanks are simple, and elegant, recalling the Lucid Air (particularly in the lower door cladding’s shape. The abrupt, sporting rear is capped by a low ducktail kick-up on the decklid that can raise electrically, like the spoilers on many Porches. Quad semicircle taillights are embedded in a full-width heckeblende.

The interior, while handsome, doesn’t share a lot of design DNA with Mazda’s USDM products, and that is probably due to the fact that it’s a product of the Changan Mazda joint venture. Changan owns a 50 percent stake in the venture, and itself produces a dizzying array of vehicles under a number of brands.

The other vehicle Mazda showed off in Beijing is the Arata SUV, which for all intents and purposes looks like a stylized, exaggerated, concept-ified version of the CX-30 crossover. And it may well be that. But what else it is seems unclear. Changan Mazda calls it a “design concept model of [an] electrified vehicle.” So it’s a design exercise that may or may not result in a product. But this evolutionary take on the current Kodo design language at least moves the ball forward. With the expected changes for production, it’d be a handsome and easily recognizable Mazda EV.

Beyond that, it doesn’t seem to signal much beyond Mazda’s intent to continue to invest in Changan Mazda and to align its local Chinese products to the “new energy vehicle” push there.

Mazda’s American EV was a flop. Could these Chinese Mazdas be more popular?

Mazda’s American EV was a flop. Could these Chinese Mazdas be more popular?

Problem Identification

The joint venture seems to have damaged the Mazda brand in China, and its market share has declined rapidly. A large part of this is due to the lack of efficient brand promotion that Chinese customers have been exposed to and the fact that the joint venture has not provided a stable production platform so as to enable a high-quality, good-value product, one that will give customers satisfaction and thus increase brand loyalty.

The JV has, however, managed to produce a small run of Mazda 6’s, and the current generation Mazda 6 is being imported to China and still holds a good image among Chinese customers as a car of high quality. China is, however, rapidly becoming one of the world’s largest car markets, and Mazda must be well prepared to effectively compete in the fiercely competitive mid-sized sedan segment and in other segments so as to ensure a future with prosperity in China. A good preparation would be to learn from past mistakes and firstly improve the profitable reputation of the Mazda brand in China, something that FAW Mazda does not have, and follow with a stable increase in market share. Given lessons from the joint venture, the group’s alternative and best strategy would be to utilize a wholly-owned Mazda subsidiary to accelerate brand promotion, increase market share, increase demand for its cars, and thus prepare a large run of cars in all segments so as to better gauge the needs of Chinese customers.

The introduction provides the background for the Japanese Mazda Motor Corporation. Since the 1980s, Mazda has been one of Japan’s leading automakers, producing cars for worldwide markets. It had been the only one of Japan’s five largest automakers not to produce cars in Chinese factories.

Its cars sold well in China, however, achieving annual sales of over US $1.75 billion in 2005. Buoyed by a JDPower 2002 China Initial Quality Study Gold Plant Award, Mazda had opened a factory in the northeastern city of Changchun with its partner FAW in 2003. However, the high quality of the cars coming out of the factory there caused tensions between Mazda and FAW as the joint venture saw a vehicle quality improvement but a decline in the share of FAW Mazda profits. Slated to make 160,000 cars a year, the joint venture, however, was not so successful and the factory produced far less than expected. The promotion of the Mazda brand in Changchun since then has simply not been efficient.


Mazda started testing its first-ever electric car in 1990, a little Ford Fiesta in a conduct that was never alleged to be built for the unrestricted, apart from fair diddly on and off. The industry was done with the Wisdom EV program, and Mazda scientific a tiny bit going around what people reflection of electricity.

With a range of 65 miles and top speed of 70mph, it was restricted to impartial performance and Mazda managed to shift a scattering to the Municipality of Irvine, some to Japan on lease agreements. The balance of the EV neighborhood came from companies testing vehicles in fad to adjust with the law in CARB states. Mazda’s comradeship was in general unenthusiastic because there was no explicit profit to be made off the cars. However, the intelligence that was gained from EV1s was used to illustrate how troubling it was to bend linguistic rule regarding EVs and Mazda began to can an EV bough of its own.

With the sovereignty of 1994, Mazda introduced a specific EV mutual understanding of the Mazda 323, and 20 were built up with lease agreements. This mutual understanding was jumped toward inner the CARB order on two times, but organizational changes and an easing of “ZEThood” rules forced Mazda to declare otherwise.

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