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Old 07-05-2005, 05:31   #1 (permalink)
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US:Mazda seeking to beef up its U.S. lineup; seven-seat sport wagon possible


Mazda has confirmed its car-based SUV, called CX-7, will arrive in fall of 2006. It will look much like the concept vehicle above.

Mazda seeking to beef up its U.S. lineup; seven-seat sport wagon possible
MARK RECHTIN | Automotive News

Within three years, Mazda plans to replace the MPV minivan with a new vehicle specifically for North America. One possibility is a larger seven-seat car-based sport wagon, say company sources.

In another segment, the company has confirmed that a car-based SUV, the CX-7, will arrive in fall 2006. The MPV replacement would be in addition to the CX-7.

Other possible additions are two-door and convertible versions of the RX-8. But they have not received approval, a Mazda executive said.

The company says it has a combination of 16 new nameplates, redesigns and re-engineerings coming in the next three years for global markets. Mazda officials declined to identify all 16 products or to say which are coming to the United States.

If typical cycle plans hold, redesigns of the Tribute sport wagon and the Mazda6 sedan, hatchback and wagon also will arrive in the three-year period.

In November, Mazda President Hisakazu Imaki said that nine of the 16 new vehicles would come to North America. But a Mazda product planner said at the MX-5 Miata media launch here that North America would get "all but two" of the new vehicles.

Some vehicles that come to North America might only be for the Canadian and Mexican markets, Mazda sources said. The subcompact MX-MicroSport concept vehicle shown at the 2004 Detroit auto show is one such vehicle under study.

By Mazda's method of counting, different body styles of the nameplate - such as the Mazda6 sedan, five-door hatch and wagon - count as separate vehicles. However, different powertrain options, such as a MazdaSpeed edition or a hybrid vehicle, do not count as separate vehicles, said Joe Bakaj, Mazda Motor's senior managing executive officer for r&d.

Another contributing factor is Mazda's recent creation of the Annual Advancement Activity team, a splinter of the existing r&d department. The team has authority to fast-track regional vehicle variants.

One of the team's tasks is to find a solution to Mazda's minivan woes. Mazda does not expect the upcoming MPV redesign to be sold in America because of the vehicle's small size.

MPV sales dropped 38.5 percent to 6,583 in the first five months of this year.
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