Mazda Suspends Dealer Orders


By Ryan Beene of AutoWeek

Mazda Motor Corp. on Friday suspended U.S. dealer orders for vehicles made in Japan, as it prepares to shutter plants again after a brief reopening.

The suspension affects the May allocation for Mazda's U.S. sales network, spokesman Jay Amestoy said. He said it was uncertain when dealer orders will resume.

Japan's automakers have been forced to close plants across the country following this month's earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis that has damaged factories, disrupted parts supplies and forced rolling blackouts to conserve electricity.

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Mazda imports the Mazda2, Mazda3, MX-5 Miata, RX-8, CX-7, CX-9, and Mazda5 from Japan.

"This is just about when dealers would start to order cars for May's allocation," Amestoy said. "It's a timing thing."

Inventory in 'Decent Shape'
Mazda's plants in Hiroshima and Hofu were idled from March 14 through March 21 before resuming temporary production three days ago using parts in stock. The plants are scheduled to be idled again starting Monday.

Amestoy said the automaker is "in decent shape" with current U.S. stockpiles, though he declined to give details.

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"We're fairly comfortable at the moment," Amestoy said. "We have a good supply and mix of models, trims and colors."

The automaker's U.S. sales are up 3 percent through February in a market that has advanced 23 percent.

Mazda had a 94-day supply of vehicles in dealer stocks as of March 1, down from 123 days on Feb. 1, according to the Automotive News Data Center. A 60-day supply is considered normal.

Honda Suspensions
Honda Motor Co. this week suspended U.S. dealer orders for vehicles imported from Japan, including the Honda Fit, CR-V, Insight, CR-Z, Civic Hybrid and Acura TSX and RL. Nissan Motor Co. also said it would reduce its planned vehicle allocation volume for May by half. The other half will be released when Nissan confirms those vehicles will be ready.

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Toyota Motor Corp. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp., haven't suspended dealer orders.

Unlike its bigger rivals, who assemble most of the vehicles they sell in the United States, Mazda imports the majority of vehicles it sells.

In 2010, imports accounted for about 83 percent of the brand's U.S. sales. The Mazda3 compact sedan, the brand's best-selling car, accounted for about 46 percent of Mazda's U.S. demand last year.

Dealers held a 102-day supply of the Mazda3 on March 1, down from the 160-day level of Feb. 1.

Dealers can still order the Mazda6 midsize sedan and Tribute crossover. The Mazda6 is built at the Auto Alliance International plant in Flat Rock, Mich., and the Tribute is assembled at Ford Motor Co.'s plant near Kansas City, Mo.

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Jacob Gordon is a freelance writer, a blogger for and a producer of TreeHugger Radio. He can be reached at

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David E. Davis Jr.: 1930 – 2011

James Tate began a career in automotive writing as Senior Editor of Sport Compact Car magazine. Since then, his work has appeared in publications like Car and Driver, Popular Mechanics, Automobile, Motor Trend, European Car, Edmunds Inside Line, Kelley Blue Book, Stuff, and specialty publications. When not writing, Tate can be found fantasizing about vintage Porsche 911's.

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