It was January of 2015 and I was standing in a small venue in Montreal. The space was dark save some access lighting and red spotlights pointed at a sheet-covered car.
A few moments later, the sheet was pulled off, and Mazda Canada announced the 2016 Mazda 2 would be coming to The Great White North.
Eleven months later, Mazda Canada would reverse that decision, citing other all-new products â€” namely theÂ CX-3 and MX-5 â€” requiring Mazda’s full attention. After all, the small automaker didn’t want to spread itself too thin, and it wasn’t like the previous-generation Mazda 2 set the sales charts on fire â€” on either side of the border.
In America, Mazda North America Operations had zero intention ofÂ selling the subcompact in any region other than Puerto Rico. Yet, year after year since the model went on sale in other global markets, Mazda continues to certify the Mazda 2’s emissions system with the California Air Resources Board, effectively making it eligible for retail saleÂ in any of the 13 “CARB states” and District of Columbia.
Meanwhile, Mazda says it still has no intention to sell the Mazda 2 in America. What’s going on? We reached out to Mazda to get an answer.
The CARB certification process requires automakers to prove its emissions systems for every model, engine, and transmission combination comply with emissions regulations as set out by the State of California.
Mazda applying for and receiving a CARB certification for the Mazda 2 would make sense if Puerto Rico were a CARB region, but it isn’t, so there goes that theory.
Does that mean the Mazda 2 might come back to America?
“The Mazda2 will not be sold in the U.S., as there are markets better-served byÂ that offering such as Puerto Rico and Mexico,” said Mazda product communications specialist Jacob Brown. “Mazda is in a different place in terms of market positioning as we shift our focus as a brand in the U.S.”
There goes theory No.2.
But there still must be a reason for Mazda continually certifying the Mazda 2. That process isn’t free. Thankfully, Brown was more than willing to explain, and the answer exists in Mazda’s partnership with Toyota to provide the Mazda 2-based Yaris iA.
“Under our partnership with Toyota, we agreed to certify the small car,” Brown explained before getting into the specificsÂ ofÂ platform sharing.
The process works thusly: Mazda certifies the Mazda 2 with CARB, then Toyota shows up at CARB’s door and basically says,Â “Our car is the same as their car,” since Mazda cannot submit paperwork on behalf of Toyota.
Dan Ryan, Mazda’s vice president of government affairs, explained the process more thoroughly.
“Typically in situations like this, one of the companies agrees to handle the certification for emissions and safety. It is usually the company that had the lead in development. As another example, when we submitted safety information on the Tribute, we referred NHTSA to the Ford Escape data.â€�
So, our subcompact Mazda dreams are dashed and this is all just paperwork.Â That’s probably for the best.[Image: Mazda]