Mazda will soon add its new Axela, the just-launched Japanese-market version of the 3, and "web-tuned@Roadster (web-tuned Roadster)," an internet-exclusive model, to its Web Tune Factory website from October 24.

Web Tune Factory was the first website in Japan to offer a build-to-order service on the internet when it was launched in February 2001. The Roadster and Demio [known as the 2 abroad] have so far been marketed on Web Tune Factory, a service that allows customers to select specifications, receive estimates, schedule appointments with sales representatives, and place orders online. After selecting the vehicle of their choice using Web Tune Factory, customers visit a dealer in order to negotiate further, authorise the contract, register the vehicle, and make a delivery appointment.

Web Tune Factory for the Axela allows customers to select the body color and option packages of their choice (factory-installed and dealer options) for either the Axela (four-door) or Axela Sports (five-door) from seven base models (three 1.5-litre, two two-litre and two 2.3-litre). After making their selections, customers can preview their customised vehicles on the web. By offering approximately 700 possible customisations, Mazda claims to have made the process of selecting options easier-to-understand and more fun.

The partially restyled Roadster, launched last month, will also be made available on Web Tune Factory. More freedom in selecting factory-installed options will be given in order to respond to diverse customer needs in the lightweight sports car market. In addition, Mazda will offer Lightning Yellow as an exclusive body colour and special aluminium wheels for the Roadster through the website.

The Axela and Roadster color customisations and option packages on Web Tune Factory are also available at dealers.

Mazda's announcement came less than a week after Associated Press reported that General Motors has stopped selling cars through the internet in Japan after the two-year effort failed to woo many buyers.

The report said internet car sales failed to catch on, and one reason the project was not popular is that certain papers are required for car sales in Japan, which can't be obtained on the net, making it less convenient.