• Staff report

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Mazda Motor Corp. launched its new Axela sports compact on the domestic market Wednesday.

The Axela, which comes with an engine displacement of 1,500cc, 2,000cc or 2,300cc, features a spacious interior and steady acceleration. It is priced between 1.4 million yen and 1.95 million yen.

“We would like to make this car Mazda’s best-selling model, as we plan to introduce it to North America and other parts of the world,” Mazda President Hisakazu Imaki said in a media preview in Tokyo.

The Axela will take the place of the Familia compact, Mazda’s leading model for the past four decades. Mazda stopped making the Familia in Japan at the end of September.

The carmaker, based in Fuchu, Hiroshima Prefecture, has a yearly sales target of 250,000 — 30,000 in Japan, 100,000 in North America, 70,000 in Europe and 50,000 in other regions.

The Axela will go on sale in Europe later this month and hit the U.S. market in December, company officials said.

Mazda developed the platform of the model jointly with U.S. auto giant Ford Motor Co. and Swedish Volvo Car.

Ford, which has a 33.4 percent stake in Mazda, plans to produce new models on the same platform.

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