Mazda's business case for the MX-5 includes profits from selling replacement parts to amateur racers who smash up their Miatas.
It's no secret that the Mazda Miata is a darling among amateur racers. Affordability, availability, and ease of maintenance on a budget make the MX-5 a major player at racing events around the world. And it turns out, Mazda has made that a part of the Miata's business case.
Of course, there's the Mazda MX-5 Global Cup Car, a factory-built, race-prepped ND Miata built for a one-marque world championship. Our man Sam Smithhopped a ride in a Global MX-5 Cup race, and had a ton of fun—even if he was nearly dying the whole time.
But Mazda sees profit even from folks who build their own race cars out of street-legal Miatas—so much so, the automaker counts replacement parts profit into its business case when it undertakes a redesign of the venerable roadster.
This tidbit comes to us from David Undercoffler at Automotive News. Writing about the Miata's near-ubiquity in amateur racing, Undercoffler reveals that the popularity of the MX-5 helps justify its business case in a market where sports car sales are still soft.
"It’s no secret that small sports cars and roadsters never have fully recovered from their recession-induced slump," Undercoffler writes. "When Mazda bean counters do the math on the business case for another generation of the Miata, knowing that there will be reliable demand for parts helps the car’s case."
“Those program managers [...] get that total business picture,” Robert Davis, Mazda North American Operations’ senior vice president of special assignments, told Automotive News. “They try to understand it upfront, so while the sales volume of the cars might not be there, they can expect to have X number of parts sales for the next six to eight years.”
In other words, Mazda anticipates a healthy demand for replacement body panels, drivetrain components, and other parts that may fall victim to the rigors of amateur racing. It's a built-in, long-term revenue stream from the motorsports world, something most mainstream automakers probably can't rely on.
So don't feel bad if you scuff up your trackday Miata. Every trip you make to the Mazda parts desk helps justify the continued existence of this beloved roadster. Our man Mr. Smith sure did his part.