Mazda sales fell 16% year on year to 16,000 vehicles in May while the year to date tally was 88,000.

Individual sales results from Mazda's two Chinese joint ventures, Changan Mazda and FAW Mazda, were mixed, China Daily reported. FAW Mazda sold 51,000 vehicles in the first five months, down 9% year on year while Changan Mazda grew volume 21% to 36,000.

Although Mazda China chairman and CEO Noriaki Yamada admitted that May sales failed to meet expectations, he was still confident that the 3 Xingcheng, which went on sale last September, would help the automaker recover later in the second half of the year.

The report noted that some analysts point to Mazda's lack of attention to the Chinese market as one of its key failings.

"FAW Mazda's models are fairly old, and the speed with which they update them is incredibly slow," Liu Feng, an analyst with Southwest Securities, commented. "Relying on only a few models to conquer the market is (a strategy) that is hard to succeed with in China."

Although updated several times, FAW Mazda's flagship, the 6, has failed to meet changing Chinese demands while Mazda's plans for China have been critiqued as excessively conservative when compared to its rivals.

"The (Fukushima) earthquake last year did deal a major blow to Japanese manufacturers," Liu said. "However, Honda, Toyota and other (Japanese) manufacturers recovered very quickly this year."

He said Mazda's losses from the earthquake were relatively small and blamed its marketing and sales tactics for declining sales in China.

FAW Mazda's poor performance has concerned co-owner FAW Car and it decided in February to spend CNY1.5bn (US$238.39m) to bring the JV's product line up to date.

The manufacturer has plans to add the 2012 6, 8, CX-5 and other models to its Chinese line this year.