Japanese automotive brands are well-known around the world for their reliability and dependability. The engines in these vehicles are top-class, and the way they are built makes it difficult for other car companies to compete with them.
Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and Suzuki are some renowned top brands. But among the heavyweights, there are some unpopular companies, such as Mazda who don’t often see the light of fame.
Why isn’t Mazda Popular?
Mazda gets overshadowed by giant companies like Toyota, Kia, Hyundai, Honda, and others. The small Japanese automaker does not stand a chance compared to these heavyweights. However, Mazda is not one to give up that easily. They still compete globally, or at least try to give others a tough time.
You will see their name pop-up when you search for new industry innovations. One example is the rotary engine, which was mass-produced by Mazda in the 90s and early 2000s. It wasn’t commercially viable or successful, but the rotary engine became popular in the motorsport scene. It still is a reckoning force in the racing world.
Moreover, Mazda is not as big as other automotive companies. They dwarf in comparison to other Japanese brands. And they never made many famous cars that would carry their name in the industry. Toyota has Corolla, Honda has the Civic, but Mazda has only a handful of renowned vehicles. The Mazda Miata, Mazda RX-7, and RX-8 are their most famous models.
Also read: Are Mazdas Expensive to Maintain? (Cost Calculation)
How Many Mazdas are Sold Each Year?
I mentioned that Mazda is a small company, but it isn’t as small as you would imagine. They have a budding presence in some of the major automotive markets in the world, including North America.
Last year, Mazda sold 1,175,139 units globally, with a larger part of the sales generated from Japanese dealerships. The sales figures dropped by 21% compared to 2019. But all in all, Mazda maintained its sales volume to a larger extent.
If you compare these figures with other brands, you will see why Mazda falls behind. In 2020 Toyota sold more than 10 million vehicles in a year, whereas Mazda sold only a fraction of that. That’s why Mazda ranks 7th or 8th in the popularity rankings for Japanese cars. And if you count global automotive marques, then Mazda won’t even make the top 10, let alone the top 15.
Is Mazda Unpopular Only in the US?
Mazda does not do very well in America, but they also underperform in some parts of Europe. The point is that they get jumbled up with the likes of Toyota and Honda, who have an undeniable reputation in the market. Mazda does not have the kind of reliability that the two Japanese giants offer, so it is tough for them to become a big influence.
They sell pretty well in parts of Asia, and Mazda has a good outreach in Australia. But apart from that and the domestic market, Mazda does not enjoy a healthy position worldwide.
Also read: Why are Mazdas so Cheap? Is it Because They’re Unreliable?
Why isn’t Mazda Popular?
Reason 1: Smaller Dealer Network
When you buy a vehicle, you expect to have dealerships conveniently located from your home or workplace. So that in the event something goes wrong, you can have the issue fixed at the earliest. Unfortunately, Mazda does not have a vast network of dealerships throughout the globe.
They especially lack locations in North America, which is deemed to be one of the world’s largest automobile markets.
In contrast, their direct competition – that are the other companies from Japan- have a budding presence around the world. Toyota and Honda both have several dealerships that cater to customers worldwide.
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Reason 2: Not Enough Market Penetration
Mazda has the vehicles to make an impact in the automotive market, but they always seem to fall behind compared to others. A big contributor to that is lower market penetration. So, while Toyota, Honda, and Nissan are doing business in many countries, Mazda limits itself to selected markets.
It might be the company’s budget, or it could be related to their goals and ambitions. However, it seems that Mazda doesn’t have the impact it should have in the automotive world. Even in terms of domestic sales, Mazda does not do too well. Perhaps, if they showed strong performance in Japan, they would have the capital to fund their growth.
Reason 3: Not as Reliable
Mazda is not the most unreliable car brand in the world. However, their reliability dwarfs in comparison to the likes of Toyota and Lexus. Both the marques have proven their mettle and made a name for themselves over the years.
So, it’s practically very hard for Mazda to creep onto the top and beat the Japanese giants. The statistics put forward by Toyota and Honda are near impossible to beat.
Also read: Are Mazda Parts Expensive? (The Breakdown)
Reason 4: Underpowered Vehicles
Many Mazda owners complain that their cars are a bit on the slower side. The engines are not as powerful as they should be, and thus, they struggle when installed in SUVs or crossovers. Unfortunately, Mazda does not have the budget or resources to fund frequent engine development programs.
They could benefit a lot from partnering with some other engine manufacturer. This way they can focus more on vehicle development.
The good news is that Mazda is close to finding a solution for their engine woes. They have introduced the SkyActiv-X engine technology, which aims to improve fuel economy, reduce emissions and solve Mazda’s power problem.
Only time will tell if the new development will prove fruitful for the company. It might all go south for Mazda, but at least they are trying their best to improve their brand.
Also read: Mazda Depreciation: 7 Popular Models Compared
Reason 5: No Great Warranties or Benefits
Car companies, nowadays, are always looking to steal valuable customers from their rivals. They can do that by offering an overall better vehicle.
But it mostly boils down to price and after-sales services. Unfortunately, Mazda is not that great with the latter. They do not have the warranties or aftersales care as rival brands. Yes, Mazda tries, but they do not always succeed.
The Middle Eastern branch of car brands is famous for offering extended warranties and amazing services. Over there, you will see Mazda trying its best but again falling short of Toyota and Nissan.
Is Mazda Worse Than Other Car Brands? Should it be More popular?
Mazda has created some exceptional cars over the years. Some of them have impressed in motorsport competitions, while others have had a decent run in regular markets. Therefore, it is safe to say that they aren’t the worst car brand out there. However, even after the kind of success, Mazda has gotten, a herculean effort to reach the top is missing.
It should be more popular and should rank in the top 10 brands worldwide, at the least. The problem is that Mazda has been inconsistent. They produced the RX-7 and then the RX-8, but they couldn’t capitalize on these cars because the rotary engine was a commercial failure.
They now have a decent line-up of vehicles. Hopefully this time – coupled with the new SKyActiv technology – Mazda can produce more of an impact in the automotive market. It is time they come out from under the shadow of other brands and take their place as innovatory automotive manufacturers.
Also read: Mazda vs Toyota: Which Brand is More Reliable?
What Problems Can You Have When You Buy an Unpopular Brand like Mazda?
The biggest issue could be the unavailability of spare parts. When you don’t have enough dealerships around, replacement parts are difficult to come by, and that’s when you feel the inconvenience. Moreover, the parts you get will be of the OEM category, which means you would have to pay a hefty amount to acquire that component.
There will be no aftermarket parts available, which are usually cheap and easily available.
Other more popular manufacturers offer easiness when it comes to parts availability. They have many dealerships, and you can choose from several aftermarket brands to satisfy your vehicle’s needs.
Moreover, if you are driving an unpopular brand’s car, it will be difficult for you to find an expert mechanic to work on your vehicle. You can DIY a few things, but for serious issues, you would need a professional. That is where you will feel that owning a Mazda is a disadvantage.
Which Mazdas are Great, But Unpopular?
Mazda has made some legendary cars that have made an impact in history. I have already mentioned the class of the Mazda RX-7 and the Mazda RX-8. There is no denying the potential of these vehicles. As even today, you can find old RX-7s and RX-8s battling out other cars in street races.
The Mazda MX-5 is another legendary vehicle that is the favorite of many. Unsurprisingly, it is the best-selling roadster worldwide, with over a million units sold since production began in 1989. It doesn’t get better than this!
A few honorable mentions are the Mazdaspeed 6 and the Mazda 787B. Both cars impressed fans back then, and they certainly inspire the new generation of enthusiasts with their capabilities, style, and class.