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Car industry on track for 1.08 million sales

In demand: Mazda has been boosted by stronger-than-expected sales of its new CX-5 and is struggling to keep up with orders.

Aussie car sector closes in on 1.1m sales as Mazda set for importer record past 100K

General News logo19 Oct 2012

THE Australian motor industry is bracing for record new-vehicle sales of almost 1.1 million units this year, with the market up 9.4 per cent to the end of September and top industry executives confident of a strong performance in the final quarter.

Market leader Toyota and leading full-line importer Mazda are both anticipating the new-car market will surpass the previous best mark of 1.05 million set in 2007, pointing to favourable economic conditions and a generally high level of consumer confidence.

Mazda Australia managing director Doug Dickson, who is steering Mazda beyond 100,000 units for the first time (a feat not yet achieved by a full-line importer), told GoAuto at this week’s Sydney motor show that the industry was expected to hit 1.08 million by year’s end.

“Our economic advisers – and they must be right because we pay them a lot of money – are suggesting that next quarter will be five per cent ahead year-on-year, which will end up about eight per cent up to 1.08 million, so it will be a new best-ever year,” he said.

“I think that’s great because it puts a lie to the fact that the Australian economy is on the rocks.

“The Australian dollar has held up, interest rates are at record lows, people are in work and in all sorts of areas they are making a lot of money.

“People are making choices – either pay down their mortgages or save – or they can buy a brand-new product.

“It’s not just the fact that the car industry is catching up on last year – I think it’s also the fact that new cars this year are just so significantly ahead of where they were four or five years ago.

“It’s a great buzz to buy a new car – and they (Australians) are doing it this year.”

Toyota Australia executive director of sales and marketing Matthew Callachor told GoAuto that a number of factors were combining to drive the industry towards 1.1 million sales.

“Realistically, interest rates are still quite low, we’ve got a situation where unemployment is also low, consumer confidence is up a little bit, and we’ve got a mining industry that albeit has come off its peak at the moment but it’s still travelling quite strongly,” he said.

“So as a country we’ve still got pretty good fundamentals.

“On top of that, this marketplace has got many new entrants in it, and the strength of the Australian dollar has meant that vehicle pricing is pretty competitive out there.

“So all of that is combining to drive the industry.”

While Toyota is on track to return to 200,000-plus sales for the year, Mr Dickson said Mazda was expecting to crack the 100,000 sales mark with ongoing support expected for key model lines including its top-selling Mazda3 small car, the CX-5 SUV and BT-50 utility.

It will also receive a surge in December with the announcement this week that the new-generation Mazda6 would reach the market before the end of the year.

Mazda has sold 77,862 vehicles so far this year, up 18.1 per cent over the same period in 2011. Last month, the company shifted a record 10,093 vehicles – a result that beat every brand in the country except Toyota.

“We’re reasonably confident of getting to 100,000 sales because we only need about 7500 a month and we’ve been averaging about 8600 for the year,” Mr Dickson said.

“So that’s really good for us. That’ll be the first time a full-line importer has cracked 100,000 and we’ve got all of our fantastic customers to thank for that.”

Mr Dickson described the early arrival of the Mazda6 as “really more about pressing home our advantage”.

“We’ve had a lot of support from customers this year – a lot of support for CX-5, for BT-50, ongoing support for Mazda3 – and here now is the 6 that will put the icing on the cake, and confound our competitors.”

Despite the brand’s success, Mr Dickson said Mazda was experiencing “significant” supply issues for CX-5 and BT-50 in particular.

“It’s not that there are supply ‘problems’ – it’s just that when there’s worldwide demand for product from Mazda, we struggle to keep up. We’re a smaller company and we struggle to keep up with worldwide demand,” he said.

“That’s why we always try to be better than the rest (other Mazda subsidiaries) so we can get access to things like the Mazda6 a little bit earlier.”

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