Mazda hopes new interior, higher mpg lead to stronger sales of small van

Mazda Motor Corp. expects that better fuel economy and a more functional interior will boost sales of the redesigned Mazda5 minivan when it goes on sale in the United States in January.

Mazda/Automotive News
Auto Tech
Mazda hopes to sell 20,000 to 30,000 Mazda5s annually in the United States.
Mazda hopes to sell 20,000 to 30,000 Mazda5s annually in the United States. Mazda/Automotive News

Automotive News

TOKYO -- Mazda Motor Corp. expects that better fuel economy and a more functional interior will boost sales of the redesigned Mazda5 minivan when it goes on sale in the United States in January.

The automaker aims to sell 20,000 to 30,000 a year in the United States, Thomas Pixton, senior managing executive officer, said at the vehicle's July 1 launch in Japan.

Mazda sold 18,488 Mazda5s in the United States last year, down 16 percent from 2008.

The redesigned version gets Mazda's smile-shaped grille and wave-inspired side styling. It remains almost 2 feet shorter in length than minivans from Chrysler Group and Honda Motor Co.

"We're looking for a sales increase in the new model because of increased environmental performance and a better interior," Pixton said. "Minivans have gotten bad press. But we're getting a generation of stylish minivans with dynamics much closer to sedans."

Mazda says the revamped Mazda5 will get up to 15 percent better fuel economy because of a direct-injection gasoline engine and the company's "i-stop" engine idle-stop technology. But it is still unclear whether the U.S. version will get the start-stop feature. The 2010 Mazda5 with automatic transmission is ranked by the EPA at 21 mpg city/27 highway.

A reworked interior can be adapted to multiple seating arrangements for up to seven people in three rows.

The Japanese version starts at ¥1.799 million, or about $20,305 at current exchange rates. A four-wheel-drive version will be released in Japan in August.

(Source: Automotive News)

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