Mazda launches CX-9 production in Japan

TOKYO — Mazda Motor Corp. has started production of the redesigned CX-9 three-row crossover, a vehicle that plays an important roll in the brand’s strategy to expand sales.

The CX-9 is manufactured at Mazda’s Ujina Plant No. 1 in Hiroshima, but the main market will be North America.

The first vehicle rolled off the line Feb. 11, Mazda said.

About 40,000 of the targeted 50,000 units in annual sales are expected to come from North America, Mazda’s biggest market.

The vehicle is key to Mazda for a couple reasons.

First, its rollout will complete the entire lineup’s transition to the Skyactiv engine and chassis system and to the brand’s eye-catching Kodo design language. It will also debut a new turbocharged engine that may be deployed in other models.

Finally, the CX-9 strengthens Mazda’s push to sell more crossovers and to penetrate snow-belt markets where it has traditionally lagged. The CX-9 should deliver on both counts.

The CX-9 goes on sale this spring in North America.

Last year, Mazda sold just over 18,000 units of the long-in-the-tooth outgoing first-generation model, which was introduced a nearly decade ago and developed on a Ford platform during Mazda’s alliance with Ford Motor Co.

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