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Truth or dare for Mazda

Vital: All-new CX-7 will be crusial to Mazda's sales growth from 2007.

Mazda says it will maintain global sales momentum by producing more 'risky' models

1 Dec 2005

MAZDA intends to sustain its rapid sales growth in Australia and overseas by providing desirable vehicles that are daring, focused and "a cut above".

These are the sentiments of Mazda Motor Corporation’s director and senior managing executive officer in charge of marketing, sales and customer service worldwide, Daniel T Morris.

In Australia this month as part of a worldwide "tour" of Mazda distributors, Mr Morris said Mazda had found the "blueprint" to achieving sales success.

He said that the right product at the right time had been the key factor of Mazda’s growth over the last three years.

"The Mazda3 is an attractive design, a fun ride and is priced right," he said. "But what we have to do now is to keep it fresh."Mr Morris said that a lot of companies were good at achieving success but many had difficulty maintaining it "because they don’t take risks, they become complacent".

Production for Mazda’s star small car is currently running at full capacity.

The recently released MX-5 is also selling strongly, while the Mazda5 (Premacy replacement not slated for Australia) is performing well in Japan and "looking promising in the United States and Canada".

Mr Morris said the Chinese market was also booming with 52 per cent growth this year over 2004 levels.

Key launches for the Japanese brand next year will be the replacements for the Tribute small 4WD (possibly to be called CX-5) and the B Series light truck. At least one of these vehicles is expected to make an appearance at the Detroitauto show in January.

The new-generation MPV, shown at the recent Tokyo motor show, is also due during 2006.

The mid-sized CX-7 five-seat 4WD wagon also begins its rollout during 2006, with Australia getting it in early 2007. This will be a crucial vehicle for Mazda, particularly in the United States where overall sales have been down oneper cent this year.

Mazda may also be considering a smaller light-4WD wagon based on the next-generation Mazda3 platform.

Mr Morris said that there was still plenty of scope for growth in the SUV (sports utility vehicle) sector in Europe, but only for the more compact C-segment varieties such as the VW Golf-derived Beduin due in 2008.

If it comes to fruition, such a Mazda (CX-3 is a likely name) could also be on sale at the same time as the VW.

But before that you can expect a new Mazda6. Due to arrive in 2007, this car is crucial for Mazda’s growth in the US, since it will take on the all-conquering Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.

Look for a larger, longer-wheelbase car, as the next Six needs to look bigger outside and be more spacious inside.

Mazda admits that one of its challenges is to maintain the current model’s sporty and compact good looks, which could all-too-easily be sacrificed at the altar of appeasing American tastes.

On the subject of sporty cars, Mr Morris says that the RX-8’s four-seater and four-door capabilities make it more practical and usable than most sports cars, therefore maintaining its showroom appeal as it ages.

The company is also cautious as to how it proceeds with its MPS/MazdaSpeed performance division.

Calling it "zoom-zoom on steroids", Mr Morris said the company had yet to determine whether turbocharging and all-wheel drive would be key signature elements for MPS. Both are used on the Mazda6 MPS.

An MPS version of the Three has been widely speculated since prototypes of one brandishing bigger wheels, flared guards and a bonnet scoop were photographed last year.

And as far as developing niche models such as a petrol-electric hybrid model to take on the highly successful Toyota Prius, Mr Morris said: "We are a small company with limited resources ... so we don’t have that luxury or that curse (to contend with)."

What's coming from Mazda:

New MPV - mid/late 2006
New Tribute/CX-5 - late 2006
New B Series - late 2006
CX-7 - March 2007
Mazda3 MPS - early 2007
Mazda6 MkII - mid-2007
Mazda2 MkII - late 2007/early 2008
CX-3 small 4WD - late 2008
Mazda3 MkII - early 2009

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