Mazda Motor Corporation's Mazda3, a new-generation sports compact known as Axela in the Japanese market, was named runner-up in the 2004 European Car of the Year competition. Final results were announced by the European Car of the Year selection committee on November 18th. The second-place finish placed the new Mazda as the highest-ranking Japanese car in a field of 35 contestants.
For Mazda, this marks the second consecutive year that one of its vehicles has been awarded second-place honors in the prestigious Europe COTY competition -- Mazda6/Atenza was last year's runner-up. Mazda's back-to-back, second-place finishes in European COTY is also a first among Japanese automakers. Mazda3, which is offered as both a four-door sedan and five-door hatchback, has also been named Car of the Year in Denmark, Turkey, Croatia and in the Czech Republic.
Established in 1963, the European Car of the Year is an international award judged by a panel of 58 senior motoring journalists from 22 countries across Europe. Its object is to award the most outstanding new car to go on sale in at least five European countries with an annual planned production volume of over 5,000 units. Thirty-five new models were in the running for this year's award. An award ceremony will be held in January 2004.
Since its launch on October 15th, sales orders for Axela in Japan reached 4,500 units as of November 17th, exceeding the monthly target of 2,500 units. In Europe, the cumulative order bank, including November shipment, is nearly 30,000 units against the annual target of 70,000 units. To date sales have been very strong. Mazda3 sales in North America will commence before the end of the year.