MONTEREY, Calif. -- Mazda's U.S. operations boss says the new CX-5 compact crossover will help the brand do something it hasn't done since 1994: sell 300,000 vehicles in the United States.
Robert Davis, senior vice president of Mazda's U.S. operations group, said the brand is targeting 50,000 CX-5 sales this year. Those incremental sales, plus big growth in Mazda3 sales, should add up to a 22 percent increase from the 250,426 vehicles Mazda sold in 2011, Davis said. Such a gain would result in 2012 sales of 305,520 vehicles.
In recent years, Mazda has been hamstrung by low customer satisfaction with its dealers and disappointing vehicle launches. For example, the CX-7 crossover hit its 40,000-unit annual sales target only once after its launch in 2006.
The redesigned Mazda6 launch almost coincided with the collapse of Lehman Bros. in September 2008. Mazda6 sales have since hovered at less than half of Mazda's original goal for the car of about 75,000 units per year.
But Mazda's U.S. sales have gained momentum in the first two months of 2012 with a 48 percent gain from 2011, to 49,647 vehicles. In October, the Mazda3 received a new optional 2.0-liter engine, part of the brand's SkyActiv technology. The sticker was cut on the Mazda3 hatchback about $1,100.
Through February, Mazda3 sales were up 56 percent from the first two months of 2011 to 20,475 vehicles. The CX-5 started arriving in dealerships in February.
Meanwhile, Mazda is winding down U.S. sales of the CX-7, the low-volume Tribute crossover and RX-8 rotary engine sports car. Davis said the CX-5 will have to fill the void of the Tribute and the CX-7, which had combined sales of 38,337 units in 2011.
To help boost loyalty among current Mazda owners and drive CX-5 sales, Mazda is offering three years of maintenance at no extra charge for current Mazda owners who buy a CX-5.