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Old 04-05-2005, 07:30   #1 (permalink)
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US:Mazda to build new sport wagon


Mazda previewed the sport wagon in concept form as the MX-Crossport, above, at the Detroit auto show.

Mazda to build new sport wagon; Mazda6-based vehicle set to arrive late '06 at earliest

MARK RECHTIN | Automotive News

NEW YORK -- Mazda North American Operations is counting on a new sport wagon to be the third core product in its lineup.

The vehicle should arrive in late 2006 or early 2007. It will be based on the Mazda6 platform.

Executives declined to give specific volume figures for the vehicle. But they expect it to outsell the Tribute sport wagon, the current No. 3 volume seller, which sold 41,078 units in 2004.

The Tribute will stay in the lineup after the new sport wagon arrives.

Mazda already counts on the Mazda3 and Mazda6 cars for a clear majority of its volume. Mazda sold 76,080 Mazda3s and 72,148 Mazda6s out of total U.S. volume of 263,882 last year.

"It's great to be known for the Miata," said Robert Davis, Mazda North America vice president of product development and quality, at the New York auto show. "But the volume we generate from the Mazda3, Mazda6 and the (sport wagon) allows us do more things like the Miata."

Mazda previewed the sport wagon in concept form as the MX-Crossport at the Detroit auto show.

Jim O'Sullivan, CEO of Mazda North American Operations, says sport wagon or crossover, shoppers wanting a better ride than traditional body-on-frame SUVs offer. The shoppers also want more space and height than sedans provide.

"The American public is not going to walk away from SUVs, but they'll morph into crossovers because they want something more carlike. They are tired of their fourth or fifth Grand Cherokee," O'Sullivan said. "As boomers age they don't need big three-row SUVs anymore. They'll like the crossover for its packaging."

Both O'Sullivan and Davis believe there is room in Mazda's lineup for the MPV minivan, Tribute SUV and the new sport wagon.

"There are no defined segments anymore," O'Sullivan said. "Everything is bleeding on top of each other."
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