Mazda2/Demio Launched in Japan
Mazda kicked off sales of the new Demio in Japan today, planning to wrest back some sales in the minicar segment in Japan. Mazda stated that it expected to sell approximately 60,000 Demios in Japan alone, with another 70,000 units sold globally as the Mazda2 in various countries outside Japan. Additionally, some undetermined amount will be produced in a joint venture in China for the Chinese market.
The original Demio launched in 1996, and spurred both Honda and Toyota to introduce competitors in the segment. Those competitors, the Honda Fit/Jazz, and the Toyota Vitz/Yaris, have gone on to considerable market success in Japan and the rest of the world. Aggregate worldwide sales of the Mazda2/Demio since 1996 hit 1.04 million in May 2007.
This third-generation Mazda2 was developed in tandem with Ford, and will be sold in Europe, Australia/NZ, and other markets over the next several months, but will not be offered for sale in North America. The Mazda2 comes equipped with either a 1.3 liter or a 1.5 liter gasoline engine, and the closeness in specification and size of vehicle has Mazda concerned about cannibalizing sales of the Mazda3, a popular model in North America. Additionally, some development work would be required to make the Mazda2 more saleable in North America, which the company is loath to do if there will be a limited return on the money spent. Nigel Brackenbury, GM of Global Marketing for Mazda, commented, “It’s a matter of prioritizing our resources.”
It is worth noting that the Honda Fit, Nissan Versa, and Toyota Yaris, all competitors in this segment, and all offered for sale in the U.S., have exceeded their initial sales projections as the price of gasoline has spiked in the United States.
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