The original CX-5 has earned high acclaim since its launch in February 2012, receiving about 90 awards around the world (as of November 2016), including Car of the Year Japan 2012-2013. Global production topped one million units in April 2015, a mere three years and five months after production began in November 2011. Introduced just as the SUV market was experiencing rapid growth, the CX-5 quickly became a core model in Mazda’s global lineup. Program Manager Masaya Kodama shares his thoughts on the development project.
“You might ask why we chose to do a major update now,” Kodama said. “The CX-5 has earned high acclaim around the world and, as the global trend toward SUVs gains momentum, the model becomes even more important in the Mazda lineup. On top of this, Mazda is constantly striving to bring the latest designs and technologies to our customers. Given this backdrop, we wanted to heighten the value of the CX-5 as a core model in the Mazda lineup by refining it with the latest design and technologies available to our development team, and create a product that customers will want to choose again, one that will help further enrich their lives.”
The goal for the new CX-5 development project was an SUV that delivers deeper levels of driving pleasure. Mazda wanted to achieve a deeper relationship, not just between car and driver, but with passengers as well, and make spending time with the CX-5 a pleasure for all concerned.
The starting point for realizing this goal was getting everyone involved to thoroughly understand and agree on a shared vision of what the new CX-5 would become. In practice, the development team brought together large numbers of employees at every major milestone and key members explained in their own words the thinking behind development objectives and the kind of customer they were targeting. Many briefings were held at Mazda headquarters in Hiroshima with as many as 1,500 staff members in attendance. Such efforts were not limited to Japan. Mazda engineers were dispatched to major overseas markets where they offered preliminary explanations of the thinking behind development along with a product overview. All of this was offered as part of the ongoing effort to work together in creating value Mazda wishes to deliver to customers. These activities provided an important opportunity for those involved in development, production, sales and overseas operations to deepen their understanding of the ideal and the issues that stood in their way.
Thus, the all-new CX-5’s story is free of the kind of interdepartmental clashes that often occur in the process of commercial product development. With everyone working toward the same goal, the team could work together to find creative solutions to the obstacles they faced, rather than butting heads or succumbing to compromise.
What accounts for the team’s tireless energy and refusal to compromise in pursuit of their vision?
“It’s not enough to make one successful model,” Kodama explained. “By applying a consistent development philosophy across our entire product lineup, we aim to make Mazda an irreplaceable presence in the lives of our customers. In other words, we don’t want customers to choose us on the merits of a specific model; we want to become their one and only brand, so they simply refuse to accept anything else. We want our fans’ catchphrase to be, ‘No Mazda, No Life!’”
The new CX-5 represents just one of the stages in Mazda’s journey as it pursues that dream. The challenge is one that will continue.