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Market insight: Mazda marches on and up
Fast-start king Mazda triples first-quarter sales in a decade to edge out Ford
11 Apr 2011
LEADING importer Mazda has tripled its first-quarter vehicle sales in a decade, not only outpacing its fellow fast-growing importers but, in 2011, local manufacturer Ford as well.
Year to date, Mazda Australia has sold 22,883 vehicles – 170 more than its one-time parent company Ford.
In 2001, Mazda sold just 7341 vehicles, compared with Ford’s 24,543.
Ford has fought back this year with its own 3.4 per cent sales revival, courtesy of growth in its imported vehicles, regaining third place from Mazda in March.
It also has several new models in the pipeline this year, starting with Territory in the next few weeks, and an all-new Focus small car and Ranger ute later in the year.
However, locally made cars from Ford and its fellow local car manufacturers, Holden and Toyota, are under a long and unrelenting siege from a flock of importers who are enjoying advantageous exchange rates and historically low import tariffs.
Nissan has shown renewed vigour in the past year – up 19.3 per cent year on year – while Hyundai – despite a 5.0 per cent sales slip YTD – has doubled its first-quarter volumes in a decade.
But, as the accompanying graph shows, the most consistent first-quarter growth among the importers has been shown by the fast-start specialist, Mazda.
From top: Mazda3 Sky Activ, Mazda Minagi concept, 2011 Ford Territory.
Its strong private buyer market representation always gets it off to a good start in January, when fleets are generally still snoozing. This gives it a running start compared with brands such as Ford.
In January this year, Mazda secured a record 9.8 per cent market share, with Ford on just 8.7 per cent. In March, Mazda’s monthly share had eased to 8.6 per cent, while Ford’s had recovered to 9.3 per cent.
Nevertheless, Mazda’s March result of 8039 units was a record, bettering its March 2008 result by 474 vehicles.
For the first time, Mazda breasted the end-of-first-quarter tape ahead of Ford with a share of 9.2 per cent to Ford’s 9.1 to claim third place behind Toyota and Holden.
The question will be whether Ford’s new Territory and imported range can maintain its new-found momentum to make up for a massive slide in Falcon sales, which are down almost 40 per cent this year.
While a much-needed facelift for Falcon is due to arrive in September or November, the potentially volume-driving four-cylinder engine is now not due until early 2012.
This year, Mazda sales have been led by its top-selling Mazda3 small car, which is, after three months of the year, the number one seller in the land, shading the long-time leader, Holden’s Commodore, 11,159 units to 10,644.
The Mazda3 has been well-supported by rising demand for its baby sister, the Mazda2, sales of which have rocketed 35.4 per cent to 4475 vehicles.
Like Ford and its Ranger ute, Mazda has also been running out its one-tonne BT-50 at fire-sale prices ahead of the arrival of the all-new model later this year, with a resultant 34.7 per cent sales boost in the first three months of 2011.
Longer term, Mazda is looking forward to the arrival of its much-hyped Sky Activ engine, transmission and chassis technologies, starting with engines in a revised Mazda3 later this year.
That is likely to be followed in 2012 by the all-new CX-5 – based on the Minagi compact SUV shown at the Geneva motor show – as well as the new-generation Mazda6. Both of these models are expected to get the full suite of Sky Activ goodies.
The need for a Mazda6 replacement is starting to be felt, with sales this year sagging 20.9 per cent. Part of the reason could be heavy advertising of the related Ford Mondeo, sales of which are up 44 per cent, edging the Mazda6 out of second place in the medium segment behind the Toyota Camry so far this year.
Ultimately, Mazda’s Sky Activ technologies will be spread across the range, with class-leading diesels, called Sky D, in the armoury under the ‘Sustainable Zoom-Zoom’ banner.
Test drives of Sky Activ vehicles to date have been positive, putting rival car companies on notice.
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