“It’s going to be a little more challenging to awaken a younger generation that isn’t quite familiar with the pleasure of roadsters,” he said at the New York auto show. “There are not a lot of them [roadsters] out there. It was easier when there were half a dozen players.”
Avid MX-5 fans, meanwhile, already are devouring every piece of information Mazda reveals about the new car. McLaughlin expects those types of buyers to line up for the Launch Edition model that will comprise the first 1,000 copies of the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata sold in the U.S. For a new group of buyers, the presence of the Miata in racing may help raise awareness of the car’s virtues.
McLaughlin acknowledged that, as with many sports cars and with past generations of the Miata, initial sales of the 2016 model are likely to spike before falling down to a lower level. He said that’s to be expected given the ownership habits of the Miata faithful
“A lot of people buy it, and they get it out of their system,” he said. “What’s been more of a problem for us is they have it, they love it, and they keep it forever.”
In contrast to a mainstream family vehicle that gets abused for years and then resold after five to six years, McLaughlin said that Miata owners tend to keep their cars around for a longer period — meaning they don’t necessarily need to buy a new one. Still, he admits Mazda won’t complain that its car is much-loved and long-lived: “There could be worse things than, it’s affordable and it lasts forever.”
McLaughlin said that Mazda has seen that the buyers for each of the car’s trim levels can be quite different. Firstly, he notes that no matter what stereotypes you may have heard, far more than 50 percent of Miata buyers are male. When it comes to the Club Edition that adds a few performance parts, he says buyers are even more male and even younger than other Miata owners. The entry-level Sport model tends to appeal to “purist” buyers who want a simple car, and the Grand Touring model speaks to shoppers who want every modern technology in their car. In fact, McLaughlin says, Mazda data show that many Miata GT buyers could afford a significantly more expensive roadster — a BMW Z4, Porsche Boxster, or similar — but still pick the Miata. And over 60 percent of all Miata buyers don’t cross-shop any other vehicles, he said.
Finally, McLaughlin confirmed that the “Miata” name will remain in the U.S. Overseas, the car is known only as the MX-5, but here it makes sense to keep the name “MX-5 Miata” so as not to lose any of the car’s name recognition
“There’s a whole lot of equity in it that. If I’m trying to expand to average 32-year-old car driver, if I say MX-5 that may not resonate. If I say MX-5 Miata they’re like, ‘Oh, alright.'”