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Death Of Mazda 6 Comes After Ford Sedans Suffered A Similar Fate

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When Ford announced plans to completely eliminate passenger cars from its lineup way back in 2018, many Ford fans and enthusiasts were shocked and saddened that the automaker was killing of some beloved, long-running nameplates and vehicles. Unfortunately, shifting consumer preferences, along with a rapidly-changing automotive landscape, forced The Blue Oval’s hand to focus its energies (and investments) on more lucrative segments with more upside for long-term growth. And now, another familiar mid-size sedan will soon bite the dust, as Mazda has officially announced plans to discontinue the Mazda 6 from its U.S. lineup after the 2021 model year.

The move follows the official demise of the Ford Fusion, which ended its 15 year run in 2020 when the Ford Hermosillo Assembly plant began retooling in order to accommodate the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport.

The problem certainly isn’t limited to Mazda or Ford sedans either. Overall sedan sales have been trending downward for years, and the Mazda 6 is just the latest casualty. Kumar Galhotra, President of Ford North America and VP of FoMoCo, made this clear in an interview with Ford Authority last year. Sales of mainstream midsize sedans slipped 16.5 percent during the first quarter of 2021 to only 247,712 units, a substantial decline from the 296,852 units a year ago, and the Mazda offering constantly ranked toward the bottom of its segment from a sales volume standpoint. The Fusion, which consistently outsold the Mazda 6 by substantial margins, became unprofitable after the segment declined, which makes the Japanese company’s call to kill off the sedan a bit of a belated decision.

Sales Numbers - Midsize Mainstream Sedans - Q1 2021 - United States

MODEL Q1 21 / Q1 20 Q1 21 Q1 20 Q1 21 SHARE Q1 20 SHARE
TOYOTA CAMRY +1.25% 78,151 77,188 32% 26%
HONDA ACCORD -1.13% 46,591 47,125 19% 16%
NISSAN ALTIMA -32.38% 32,017 47,347 13% 16%
CHEVROLET MALIBU -23.51% 26,987 35,283 11% 12%
HYUNDAI SONATA +31.76% 20,557 15,602 8% 5%
KIA K5 * 20,378 * 8% 0%
KIA OPTIMA -99.92% 16 20,345 0% 7%
SUBARU LEGACY -3.52% 6,305 6,535 3% 2%
VOLKSWAGEN PASSAT -24.18% 4,535 5,981 2% 2%
MAZDA MAZDA6 -4.90% 4,285 4,506 2% 2%
FORD FUSION -78.64% 7,889 36,937 3% 12%
CHRYSLER 200 -67.00% 1 3 0% 0%
TOTAL -16.55% 247,712 296,852

While this particular chapter in automotive history may be closing, it is worth reflecting on the intertwined relationship both vehicles shared, which at this point represents a bygone era.

Originally debuting for the 2003 model year, the first generation Mazda 6 arrived at a time when the Japanese automaker was part of the Ford Motor Company corporate umbrella, as The Blue Oval owned a controlling stake in the company from 1995 until 2008. That arrangement would prove extremely fruitful for both automakers, but particularly for Ford, which utilized Mazda platforms for several Ford sedans in the mid 2000s. The Ford CD3 platform, which was derived from the Mazda 6, saw use in the 2006 Ford Fusion, meaning both vehicles were closely related.

While the Mazda 6 might not what an automotive layman thinks of when envisioning Ford sedans, its connection to The Blue Oval was undeniable. It was produced at the Ford Flat Rock Assembly Plant, also known as AutoAlliance International for a spell, alongside the Ford Mustang, until that arrangement ended in 2012 and Ford assumed complete ownership and responsibility for the facility, which today only produces Ford’s famed pony car.

2019 Lincoln Continental

With finite resources and ever-increasing expenses, automakers are going to invest in products that have the most growth potential, and ones that the majority of consumers want to buy. Even after all the effort and investment that went into reviving the iconic Lincoln Continental, FoMoCo chose to discontinue it rather than dump money into a losing proposition.

In the end, if a company intends to survive, let alone grow, business decisions must follow the laws of supply and demand, and automakers are no exception. It that light, it makes perfect sense for the Mazda 6 to ride off into the sunset, especially given the Japanese automaker’s relatively small footprint.

We should also note that (currently-unconfirmed) rumors have suggested that the 6 will return at some point in the future as a premium or even luxury offering, complete with a rear-wheel-drive platform and a straight-six gasoline engine. But at that point, it will be a completely different vehicle playing in a very different space.

We’ll continue to report on all of FoMoCo’s competitors, so subscribe to Ford Authority for the Ford business news and ongoing Ford news coverage as it happens.

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Written by Cameron Taylor

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9 Comments

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  1. Truly as shame, as the “6” was always a nice sized, decent handling sedan. In its older “speed” option, it was a blast to drive!

    Let the numbing of the driving experience continue!

  2. As much as I love sedans, I recognize that with the increased cost to purchase a vehicle, buyers are seeking more utility when shopping for their cars. This is supplanted by the availability of a new crop of more economical car-based SUVs. The sedan aesthetic loses to practicality now more than ever in history. Trunks are now exclusive to sports cars, European luxury saloons and the occasional budget subcompact.

  3. Toyota’s Camry, increased sales and dominates the market, reason? Reliability would be the first of many. 26% of the market is Huge. It does appear ford and mazda are “laying down their swords” rather than saying, “We can do as well or better”, what a shame. If ford started producing sedans with the Camry’s reliability, maybe they’d sell a lot of sedans.

    • You are correct. Let’s take a look at the factors for why this has occurred.

      Ford has been afflicted with a special conundrum for over half a century. It’s called the F-Series. While one may think that producing a best-selling vehicle of this magnitude for decades is indeed a feather in their cap, it is also a double-edged sword. Selling millions of copies of such a cash cow with margins that are as gargantuan as the trucks themselves necessitates Ford to back off on R&D for their lesser models and keep the funding pipeline going strong for future truck development.

      Remember that Toyota sells one Tundra to every 25 F-150s, so there’s a lot more at stake with respect to their mainstream offerings like Camry and RAV4. In the auto manufacturing industry, nothing is left to chance.

  4. I honestly think Ford letting go of mazda years ago was a bad move, but times change. The Fusion was a good sedan unlike the last generation Focus and Fiesta. The Mazda 6 was not a bad sedan just smaller especially compared to Camry and Accord.

  5. I must have missed the “effort” to revive the Lincoln Continental. This had to be the least promoted automobile in marketing history. Does anyone ever remember seeing an ad for this car on TV? I think it’s ridiculous for Lincoln to offer FOUR SUV’s and not one sedan in the entire FOMOCO portfolio. I find it hard to believe this will end well.

  6. The difference is that the 6 will be back and better than ever. Meanwhile the Ford lineup gets more and more bland with every change they make. Slapping an ST badge on the side of a soccer mom mobile does not make a sports vehicle.

  7. I owned a 07 Mazda 6i 5-door made at Flat Rock MI for 12 years and 168,000 trouble free miles, including an accident with a deer. I finally traded it in for a 2019 CX-5 Signature. It was a great car and it did serve as the base for the original Fusion. Mazda’s mistake in my opinion was letting Ford talk them into the 2nd. generation North American only model. Also in not offering AWD and the wagon in the USA market.

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