Mazda Motor Corp announced "CX-8," a new SUV (sport utility vehicle) having three rows of seats.
The CX-8, which will be released Dec 14, 2017, in Japan, is the largest SUV that Mazda targets at the Japanese market. It has the same platform with the "CX-9" large-size SUV, which the company sells in North America and other overseas markets.
The price of the CX-8 ranges from ¥3,196,800 (approx US$28,406) to 4,190,400. Mazda plans to sell 1,200 units of the vehicle per month.
"In Japan, minivans are mainly used as cars for many passengers, but they are gradually being replaced with SUVs having two or three rows of seats," Mazda President Masamichi Kogai said at a press conference that the company had Sept 14, 2017, in Tokyo. "We will try to create a new market that replaces the minivan market."
"We will change the common sense that cars for many passengers are equal to 'box cars,'" said a Mazda engineer who was responsible for the development of the CX-8.
The development of the CX-8 started in about 2014, he said. The development of the CX-9, a large-size SUV targeted at the North American market, was preceding that of the CX-8.
"We decided to consider an SUV that has three rows of seats and is suited for the Japanese market, by using the CX-9's platform," the engineer said.
In parallel with the development of the CX-8, Mazda decided to withdraw from the minivan market. The company finished selling the "MPV" in 2016 and will stop the production of "Biante" at the end of September 2017. And the production of the remaining minivan, "Premacy," is scheduled to be finished within fiscal 2017.