Jim O'Sullivan, president of Mazda North America, also said the company is studying plans for selling diesel engines in the U.S. market for the first time.
"We're not ready to make the announcement but obviously we sell diesels in Europe," O'Sullivan said during a lunch with reporters in Detroit. "The Mazda 2 is extremely successful in Europe and Asia. We're continuing to watch that space in North America."
O'Sullivan said Mazda North America is now "extremely busy" and "extremely committed to finishing what we have on our plate right now." Those things on the corporate platter include finishing the launch of CX-9, relaunching the revamped Mazda5 and the launch of the new Mazda6.
O'Sullivan added the passenger car market in the U.S., as opposed to the truck market, is showing signs of evolving.
"We see the car market here in the United States becoming more like the European market. By that I mean "C" cars are continuing to grow and "B" cars are becoming more prominent than ever before," O'Sullivan added.
"C" cars are generically, mid-size cars, while "B" cars are vehicles like the Mazda2 and the 2010 Ford Fiesta, which share running gear.
Underscoring the shift is the popularity of the Mazda5 "space wagon," which is one of Mazda's most popular vehicles in Europe, O'Sullivan said. Demand for the updated version has taken off since it was introduced earlier this winter. Mazda hasn't put any money into the marketing budget for Mazda5 according to Mazda spokesman Jay Amestoy. Nevertheless, sales have been brisk.
O'Sullivan said the first half of 2008 looks like it will be relatively tough because of the sluggish economy. Sales, however, should take a turn for the better in the second half of the year. Meanwhile, Mazda sales climbed 10 percent in January.--Joseph Szczesny