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FAW Mazda8 MPV

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FAW Car Corp, the partner of Japan's Mazda Motor Corp, announced it would invest 293 million yuan (US$43.2 million) to locally produce Mazda multi-purpose vehicles (MPV) to complete its product portfolio.

The listed unit of China's second-biggest car maker, FAW Group Corp, plans to make 20,000 Mazda-branded MPVs starting from 2009 after pouring money into new equipment and upgrading existing assembly lines in a plant in Changchun, it said in the latest filing to the Shenzhen stock market.

The move is expected to help FAW win more customers with a complete product line-up. It is now mainly partnered with Mazda to produce the Mazda 6 mid-to-high class sedan, which has been challenged by more competitive rivals such as Toyota's Camry and Honda's Accord.

Although the niche market segment accounts for a small proportion of the overall vehicle market, analysts said it would sustain growth in China's increasingly affluent society.

Half-year sales for MPVs added 4.09 percent to 111,400 units in China, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

First spy shots:

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With an improved powertrain and unchanged pricing, the 2013 Mazda8 from FAW-Mazda hit the market last week. The 2.3L L3 engine on the previous model was replaced by a 2.5L L5 that can put out a maximum of 120kW of power and 226Nm of torque. Meanwhile, the 4AT gave way to a 5AT.

According to the official description, the new drivetrain improves in fuel efficiency while putting out more power– combined fuel consumption was lowered from 9.8L to 9.6L per 100km. This was achieved despite a slight increase in the vehicle’s curb weight.

Beyond the powertrain upgrade, the only other significant change is the addition of parking radar to the list of standard features for all three available versions.

Released in December 2010, the 7-seater MPV built by FAW-Mazda in Changchun has not been well received by local consumers. In the first ten months of this year, less than 3,000 units of it were sold.

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