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Mazda Australia ‘plugging away’ in declining market

Power of 3: If Mazda3 continues to outsell Toyota’s Corolla in 2019, it will mean Mazda Australia has both the best-selling passenger car and SUV Down Under in its model line-up.

At least 100,000 sales still on radar as Mazda pushes on in challenging conditions

21 May 2019

MAZDA Australia says it remains on track for at least 100,000 sales in 2019 thanks to fresh product which is helping it pull ahead of a new-vehicle market that has declined for 13 consecutive months with no end in sight.


In an interview with GoAuto, Mazda Australia marketing director Alastair Doak said “a whole bunch of different things” have played a part in the company’s sales this year declining by just 4.0 per cent, to 35,987 units, in a market that is down 8.1 per cent to the end of April.


“Obviously we updated CX-5 at the end of last year and it remains Australia’s top-selling SUV – it’s doing incredibly well,” he said.


“We updated CX-3 at the end of last year, we updated CX-9 at the end of last year, we updated CX-8 (in March this year) … so we’ve got a pretty fresh line-up.


“We’ve got cars that we know appeal, we’re in the right segments at the right time, so all that helps. Dealers are always very focused on selling cars to our customer base, which is private buyers.


“So, there’s no one thing, it’s all of those elements. You need to be juggling a lot of balls all at the same time and we seem to be doing that reasonably well at the moment.”


Mr Doak also highlighted the significant positive impact that launching the fourth-generation Mazda3 small car has had on Mazda Australia’s sales performance this year, which sees the Japanese car-maker standing firm as the number-two brand on the market, deferring only to Toyota.


“Whenever you launch a big-name car, then obviously there’s that halo effect and it also buoys everybody – from the dealer network right through the whole company,” he said.


“Mazda3 over the years has been a huge seller in Australia and has been Australia’s top-selling car for a few years in the past.


“So, whenever you have the opportunity to talk about such a big product, then it gives everybody a boost, a bit of confidence lift, and everybody gets on the front foot, which is nice.”


Mazda3 is this year outselling its key rival, Toyota’s Corolla, which has been Australia’s best-selling passenger car for the past six years. The Mazda has managed 10,323 sales to the end of April (-7.6%), while the Toyota has found 9415 homes (-23.1%).


Asked if 2019 is the year that Mazda3 wrestles back the title of best seller, Mr Doak said “only time will tell on that one”. In the meantime, old stock still needs to be cleared, with “a little over a month left”.


“It’s certainly not a focus or a desire or something that’s written down as ‘must do’ on the to-do list for this year, so it’s not something that we’re chasing,” he said. “We have a sales target and we’ll do it.


“We still have that mix of previous generation and new car, so we need to wash that out and that runout is going incredibly well, so it’s all going to plan. We’re probably slightly above where we thought we would be.”


Both models are adding sedan body styles to the new-generation line-ups this year, with the Mazda3 four-door now in showrooms, while Corolla sedan is due in the fourth quarter.


Mr Doak described the new-vehicle market as “tough” and pointed to various economic factors behind the current downturn, but stressed that the industry has been in this position before.


“We’ve all been here before, we know what that means, so I guess we’re calling on that experience in the dealer network and within ourselves to manage it,” he said.


“I think we’ve put realistic expectations on ourselves, as well, so there’s not a huge amount of additional pressure that suddenly we have a huge amount of stock lying around, which obviously then becomes very destructive, so we’re managing that part of it, as well.


“It’s hard work for everybody, but we’ll keep plugging away.”


Mr Doak said Mazda Australia’s 2019 sales performance is progressing to plan, although the timing of the federal election threw spanner in the works for the market.


“We said we would do 100,000-plus this year and absolutely we’re on track for that,” he said. “Hopefully the ‘plus’ bit is bigger.


“It’s going to be hard. Obviously, this month is an interesting month (with the) federal election. Obviously, we need to get that out of the way.


“It’s always disruptive to sales, no matter when it happens, so that’s no different this time around. But it’s obviously fallen into our peak selling period for the industry.”


Mr Doak added that Mazda Australia is not expecting a strong finish for the overall market in the second half of the year, even now that the federal election is over.


“We’re calling 1.1 million for the year, so let’s wait and see,” he said. “I think we’ve factored in no real change for the back half of the year, but I think we’re taking a reasonably conservative approach there, so if there is more opportunity, we’ll happily meet it.”


Asked when the market will return to growth, Mr Doak was cautiously optimistic that it could occur in 2020 but indicated it is not of concern.


“You always live in hope, don’t you? So hopefully next year we’ll see a little bit, but it’s too early to say,” he said. “It’s not something we’re concentrating on at this point.”

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