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Fleets on the agenda for Mazda

Gearing up: An end to Australian automotive manufacturing could loosen the grip local car-makers have on the fleet market and Mazda looks poised to step in.

Mazda hires senior manager to plot course for fleet success as local pullout looms

Mazda logo5 Feb 2015

By RICHARD BERRY and TERRY MARTIN

UPDATED: 17/02/2015MAZDA Australia has appointed former BMW sales executive Tim Crilly as senior manager of corporate and business fleet, marking the beginning of a strong push into the fleet market as the local manufacturing industry prepares to shut down over the next two years.

Speaking at this month’s launch of the updated Mazda6 in Albury, Mazda Australia marketing director Alastair Doak said the company, which has built up a enviable following from private buyers, had reassessed its strategy and decided that now was the time to increase its fleet business.

“We’ve talked about it on and off for some time,” he told GoAuto.

“I guess we were busy ramping sales and we got to the 100,000 sales and now we’re above that. Now that we’ve got all the SkyActiv and Kodo-designed cars, it was just a natural point to sit back and reassess the business and see where we want to go and areas we can have a look at.

“Obviously the movement away from local manufacturing and that change in the industry added momentum to the idea of actually getting serious about doing something (with fleets).”

Mr Doak said he did not expect Mazda to kick-off with a large-scale fleet operation for rental companies or government contracts, instead preferring a “user chooser” model for small businesses offering employee car package. He added that this would not just be limited to the Mazda6.

“I guess we’ll probably start with Mazda6, but I’m sure there’s a market for CX-5s and so on,” he said. “We’d very much be looking at incremental volume not substitution.”

While Toyota, Ford and Holden’s grip on the fleet market may channel Mazda into smaller individual programs for now, the end of local manufacturing in 2017 may open this market to other brands in the future.

The appointment of Mr Crilly is a significant move, and he brings to Mazda considerable experience in fleet-related sales positions.

Mr Crilly spent the past three years at BMW as national corporate sales manager. He was previously a regional fleet manager with Toyota Australia – a role he was in for five years – and prior to that served as national sales manager for novated leasing firm Direct Salary Packaging, which operates RACV’s Fleet Solutions division.

“He’ll have lots of ideas, he’s got the knowledge and he’ll be able to say, ‘Here’s how it works and how I think Mazda can benefit from this business,’” Mr Doak said.

“So we’re open to discussing all ideas and we’re looking to him to open up our eyes to this market and help us formulate some programs.”

GoAuto understand Mr Crilly will first look at Mazda’s BT-50 fleet program, which has been in place since the arrival of the new-generation ute in 2011.

“Our new fleet guy gives it more focus and more attention,” Mr Doak said.

“Somebody has to get up in the morning and actually think about it and worry about it and make sure it’s actually working in the marketplace so, yes, it just gives it a little bit more momentum, but we think it’s a good thing for BT-50 and we’ll see where we end up with that.”

Mazda Australia managing director Martin Benders told GoAuto late last year that if the company wanted to improve Mazda6 sales it needed to push for more fleet buyers, as people moved away from sedans and wagons and into SUVs.

He said this would not come with a drop in specification or features in the Mazda6.

“Traditionally Mazda hasn’t played in fleet but that market has changed,” he said.

“So we’re trying to find a better way of communicating to those people. It’s not a price thing it’s a packaging thing, a financing thing.”

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