SUVs are the way forward for Mazda which reportedly is dropping minivans

SUVs are the way forward for Mazda which reportedly is dropping minivans

Mazda Motor plans to end development and production of minivans, a Japanese media report said.

The business daily Nikkei said Mazda's decision was because minivan popularity has waned with the rise of sport utility vehicles and the company was joining other midsize Japanese automakers narrowing their model ranges.

Mazda will not replaces its three current minivan models: the Premacy (known as the Mazda 5 outside Japan), the MPV (aka 8) and the Biante.

The Nikkei said domestic unit sales of these three models totaled about 10,600 last year, only a quarter of their most recent volume peak in 2010. Mazda sees little to be gained from continuing to produce them, judging that big automakers have gained the upper hand in minivan popularity.

Production of the MPV will end as soon as this year, the report said. When Mazda stops making the Premacy/5, it will also discontinue supplies of the vehicle to Nissan Motor on an original equipment manufacturer basis. Sales of the three models are expected to end by 2017.

The Nikkie said Mazda company will channel freed-up resources into its SUVs and plans to develop a seven-passenger model based on its midsize CX-5 that will go on sale as soon as 2018.

Other smaller Japanese automakers are making similar plans, the report noted. Mitsubishi Motors will end development of its Lancer sedan and freeze its Pajero SUV at the current model. Instead, it is pushing into environmentally friendly vehicles, with plans to release another plug-in hybrid in fiscal 2017.

Subaru maker, Fuji Heavy Industries, has led the way in brand consolidation. It ended in-house production and development of minivehicles in 2012 and boosted SUVs with which it has found growth in North America and Japan. The company expects to sell a record 954,000 vehicles worldwide in the year ending 31 March.