News - Mazda

Mazda chief looks to BT-50 growth

Plans: It's already number one in its segment, but Mazda is looking at how to sell even more CX-5s.

Only supply, not demand, holds Mazda SUV and ute sales back: MD

Mazda logo15 Aug 2013

MAZDA’S CX-5 may already be Australia’s most popular SUV, but the company has sounded a warning to its segment rivals: it can sell even more.

Not only that, the company also plans to push sales of its BT-50 ute closer to the light commercial segment’s biggest players by asking for a bigger chunk of global production, and going after more fleet sales.

Mazda Australia managing director Martin Benders told GoAuto this week that CX-5 sales could feasibly go even higher than they already are. It is global supply that restricts volumes rather than demand, and Mazda is continually looking at ways it can shuffle around production in Japan to pump out more of the SUVs.

“Every car we get is coming in and going straight out, we have no stock,” said Mr Benders, adding that Japanese production had increased from 150,000 to 200,000 units, and could climb higher still.

Many of these extra cars are going to Europe to satisfy back-orders - Mazda Japan initially sent most CX-5s to profitable centres such as Australia rather than its struggling European arms - but Australia can also expect some of them.

Mazda has sold 11,731 CX-5 this year for 18 per cent segment share. The smaller Hyundai ix35 is the only other SUV to crack 10,000 sales to the end of July.

Another key area of growth earmarked for Australia’s top importer is the light commercial market, with Mazda producing a relatively new and well-regarded contender, the BT-50.

But in the all-important 4x4 area of the segment, Mazda has sold 5466 BT-50s, putting it a distant fifth in the segment behind the Toyota HiLux, Nissan Navara, Mitsubishi Triton and Ford Ranger (the Mazda’s twin-under-the-skin).

Its performance in 4x2 space is better, as its 2847 sales place it fourth among direct rivals.

Supply constraints have hurt, with weeks-long waiting lists on some versions, especially automatics.

“Well if you look at the Ford numbers (9315 4x4s, 3029 4x2s YTD), they’re substantially above us, so that already indicates we could probably do a little bit better,” said Mr Benders.

“If you look at passenger cars, we’re one or two in most segments. With our previous product in the ute segment we’ve been down the rung because we don’t think we had a competitive product, but we now think we’ve got a more-than-competitive product and we’re still fifth there, especially in dual cabs.

“Just those two factors say to me there’s more opportunity there, but we’ve basically only had enough supply to meet natural demand we haven’t gone chasing it. But supply will improve, and we’re certainly negotiating hard with Mazda in Japan to get as much as we can.

Mr Benders also intimated a drive towards more fleet sales, made achievable given a more steady stream of supply. Mazda makes a point of selling almost no fleet cars in the passenger market, but you can’t ignore it with LCVs, he said.

“The thing with that segment is, there are plenty of people that buy in single units, and we’re getting a fair share of those, but there’s also plenty of opportunity to get into small fleets and so forth, but to do that, to chase that, you need stable supply.

“We’re going to ask for a bigger piece of the pie, and we’ll get some.”

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