2010 Mazda3 is Two Years Late
Mazda Thailand has finally found the will to bring the "new" Mazda3 to the Thai market. Better late than never? The Mazda3 currently on sale in Thailand has been replaced in other markets for years and years already.
Still, here we are, 2011, and the Mazda3 is finally starting to roll off Thai production lines, and will be in customer hands following its launch on the 17th March.
Why the wait?
Seemingly, it is common now for Thailand to be overlooked for many years when a new "global" model is launched. This happened with the Mitsubishi Lancer, with the outgoing model left to compete with fresher legged opposition several years after its sell by date. By the time the replacement arrived, the others are well on their way towards bring on fresh legs in the way of mid-life updates and face lifts.
Why is this the case? Well, Mitsubishi, Mazda and Ford are not selling in the quantities that Toyota and Honda can manage. Retooling the local factories for new models is expensive, and the sales projections would have to allow for it.
Mazda were shipping the 2004 Mazda3 over from the Philippines, where it was put together at the Ford plant along with the Focus on which the Mazda3 is based. Now, the new Mazda3 will be built in Thailand, at the shiny new US$ 450 million Ford/Mazda AAT plant, where the BT-50 and Mazda2 are currently built. The move to a local factory could be part of the reason for the delay in the car reaching us here.
The design of the new Mazda3 is very fresh, and brings something a little new to the market. Of course this will not appeal to more conservative buyers, but that's the point!
The Hatchback option, known in Thailand as the Mazda3 Sport, has proved particularly popular for Mazda, and since neither Toyota or Honda have anything to compare, they have enjoyed some modest success in that segment. With good build quality, and a sporty ride, those looking for something a little less stodgy than the ubiquitous Toyota Corolla Altis, could find something to like in the Mazda3 Sport. The outgoing model was also class-leading in terms of safety specification with side and curtain air bags available long before others in this segment.
Mazda Thailand will be hopeful that the new model will build on the momentum of the outgoing car, which has chalked up 28,000 unit sales in Thailand since it launched in 2004. Interestingly, Mazda are still promoting the old and long-in-the-tooth Mazda3 as the "New Mazda3" on the Mazda Sales (Thailand) website at time of writing. And the company still managed to offload more of them in December 2010 than in any previous month!