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MPV Gone Missing

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MPV Gone Missing
Mazda vanquished van from line-up

AutoWeek | Link to Original Article @ AutoWeek | Published 02/01/07, 11:49 am et


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Despite lackluster sales, Mazda North American Operations gave serious consideration to redesigning the MPV minivan. But logic prevailed. The automaker switched gears and approved a different strategy for reaching buyers needing a seven-passenger vehicle.

Mazda put its resources into developing the seven-passenger CX-9 crossover. Robert Davis, Mazda North American Operation's senior vice president for product development and quality, spoke with Automotive News Product Editor Rick Kranz about that strategy.

Before the decision was made to create the CX-9, was there any thought about redesigning the MPV for the United States?

There was. The MPV is a very important vehicle for us in Japan. The original project was to co-develop another MPV. But based upon where the minivan segment has been going, we departed from that. If you really look at it - the revenue generated from minivans versus crossovers - there is quite a big gap.

And that is primarily driven by the Big 3 and the way they market minivans. It just puts downward pricing pressure on them. So we actually began the process of replacing the MPV with another MPV before we switched to the CX-9 program.

For how many months did Mazda work on the redesigned minivan for North America before that plan was dropped?
It wasn't long. It never got program approval. It probably banged around for six months.

Was the size philosophy going to be the same as the previous MPV - one size fits Japan and North America?
Yeah.

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Japan's next MPV, the MPV we will never see.


So the issue was size?
Basically it was with size, and we didn't see an opportunity for good enough volume. We want the CX-9 to be one of our core vehicles. In other words, we want it to generate enough volume to support not only us but our dealer network in the U.S., along with the CX-7, Mazda3 and Mazda6. Based on the size, we didn't see (the MPV) being able to do that.
The other is the revenue, the price. If you look at the transaction prices of crossover SUVs versus minivans, the crossover SUVs dictate a stronger price, much better residual values, less incentives spent on them. So the pressure in the marketplace is much easier on the crossover SUV.
The market trend is going that way. People still want three-row versatility; they don't want the image of a minivan.

What components do the Ford Edge and Mazda CX-9 share?
Pretty much everything from the firewall forward - the braking system, the suspension corners, the hard points. The architecture is pretty flexible. There are a lot of similarities, like in the floorpan. But obviously, based on the wheelbase change, it is different.

Since there is so much sharing between the Edge and the CX-9, why isn't the CX-9 assembled in Oakville, Ontario, where the Edge is assembled, instead of Japan?
To support Mazda's product plan. I don't know that we have ever been given the opportunity to make that call. It supports overall the cycle plan of Mazda, not necessarily Ford.

Is a CX-9 hybrid planned?
Not at this time.

Is it part of this cycle plan?
We don't talk about that.

The CX-9 goes on sale in February. Why is it a 2007 model instead of a 2008?
There is an emissions change coming in the '08 model year, a regulatory change. We won't have the hardware on the car until probably July.

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Those who want the sliding doors can also get the Mazda 5...

I just love the concept of that car, and I hope that it does well and inspires competition.

Imagine an HHR with sliding doors and a third row.

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Those who want the sliding doors can also get the Mazda 5...

I just love the concept of that car, and I hope that it does well and inspires competition.

Imagine an HHR with sliding doors and a third row.

It is a cool car. Seems great for young families.

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It's not the next MPV, it's a pretty bad photo of the new MPV Japan has had for about a year already. Officially it seats 8, but the rear bench is cramped for more than two, and like Nissan's Presage the 2nd row is actually two captain's chairs (with side bolsters) which can be pushed together—putting someone in the center 'seat' would be akin to cruel and unusual punishment for even short trips.

http://www.mpv.mazda.co.jp/narrowband/style.html

http://www.mpv.mazda.co.jp/narrowband/appeal3.html

Opel's Meriva did it much better with a disappearing center seat/armrest, and Nissan's Serena rather than hiding the center seat/console allows you to slide it up to the front row. Both use a a split-fold bench rather than captain's chairs.

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Those who want the sliding doors can also get the Mazda 5...

I just love the concept of that car, and I hope that it does well and inspires competition.

Imagine an HHR with sliding doors and a third row.

:withstupid:

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