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Mazda concerned about supply of new CX-3

Slow boat: Australia could fall down the queue for Mazda's all-new CX-3 crossover if sales take off overseas.

On the eve of launch, Mazda MD sounds alarm about supply of hot new CX-3

Mazda logo17 Mar 2015

By TIM ROBSON

ANTICPATED strong worldwide demand and a weak Australian dollar may spell supply trouble for Mazda’s new darling, the CX-3 crossover.

Mazda Australia managing director Martin Benders expressed concerns that the company’s new compact SUV had been so well received during its pre-launch phase, Australia would need to work hard to secure its share.

“The strong reaction we’ve seen to the car in Australia is consistent across the globe, which means we anticipate the demand from all Mazda markets is likely to far exceed available production capacity for this launch year,” Mr Benders told journalists at the launch of the CX-3 in Canberra this week.

“We are going to be competing with our friends in Europe, the US and Japan for available production.”

Mazda Australia has registered 33,000 expressions of interest for the CX-3, and 8500 people have requested that their local Mazda dealer call them when the vehicle arrives in showrooms from this weekend.

The CX-3 is built in just one Japanese plant in Ujina, alongside CX-5, CX-9, MX-5 and its mechanically related cousin, the forthcoming Fiat 124 Spider. The base version of the four-variant range, the Neo, is not slated to begin production until April, but supplies of the other models are currently not affected.

22 center imageLeft: Mazda Australia managing director Martin Benders.

“When the CX-5 launched a couple of years ago, the Euro was worth not a lot, so (Australia) was held to base allocation because the Australian dollar was much more worthwhile from a Japanese perspective,” said Mr Benders.

“The shoe is on the other foot now. It’s not that the Aussie dollar is much worse now, it’s just the US dollar and the Euro have moved up quite considerably, so those two markets are in a stronger position when it comes to negotiations.”

Mr Benders acknowledged that the fate of Mazda Australia’s CX-3 supply line depended heavily on the success of the vehicle in other markets around the world.

“If (the US and Europe) start getting strong demand, we’ll be fighting them for supply, and we’ll need to get our product mix right to get our share,” he admitted. “There will be some decent old negotiations for the next 12 months, that’s for sure.”

Mr Benders said that he didn’t expect the CX-3 to eat into the sales of other Mazda products.

“CX-3, as a totally new and incremental model to our range, does offer us a chance for another growth step in 2015. It enters what was the fastest growing segment in 2014 with a strong and appealing product. Our goal will be to quickly move up the segment rank, supply permitting,” he said.

“If the market is flat or slightly growing, and the segment has capacity for double-digit growth, where are all these buyers going to come from? In the same way the medium SUVs dragged in buyers from medium and large passenger cars, our research tells us that these small SUVs will draw buyers from light- and small-car segments.”

Mr Benders also expressed confidence in the full-range strategy, pointing out that key rivals such as Renault’s Captur and Honda’s HR-V have only offered a mid-level range choice to prospective buyers.

“We did our homework,” he said. “We found the buyers coming out of small and light cars expect to be able to select their appropriate vehicle from a more normal range of base, mid and high-grade options. Mazda will offer these buyers a full range of specifications.”

Mr Benders also made no bones about where he expected to see the CX-3, going forward.

“Our goal is to match the segment leaders, and to ramp up quite quickly to the 1000-units-a-month level,” he said.

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