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Mazda’s growth to slow in 2017

Rise and shine: Sales of the BT-50 have lifted in 2016 on the back of private and small fleet interest.

Record 2016 for Mazda but quieter times expected next year

14 Dec 2016

MAZDA Australia is expecting only a slight increase in sales in 2017 as it looks set to end 2016 well ahead of its earlier forecast.

Following the Japanese car-maker’s record 2015 with a haul of 114,024 units in Australia, it is expected to hit a new high of 118-119,000 units once all of the registrations for December are factored in.

To the end of November this year, Mazda has recorded 108,446 sales, a 4.0 per cent lift over the first 11 months of 2015 when it had sold 104,316 passenger cars and SUVs.

Speaking with journalists at a media event last week, Mazda Australia marketing director Alastair Doak said that the company had “over-achieved” in 2016 after initially predicting only minor growth for the calendar year.

“2016 was a year of consolidation,” he said. “We had a huge jump the year before to 114,000 (units). No-one quite expected that level of growth. That included the new CX-3. It’s fair to say that maybe we were a little too conservative for this year’s forecast given we were up 4.0 per cent this year, that has increased just a couple of per cent.”

Predicting sales just shy of 120,000 for this year “depending how strong December is”, Mr Doak said the company was not expecting a huge leap in 2017, despite the arrival of key new models, variants and updates.

“Given the market is almost flat we are very happy with the improved sales performance. Despite this, we don’t think the overall market will shift greatly from its current position in 2017 so we are forecasting a sales increase of just a few per cent next year with the overall market. For us we will probably move inline with that increase next year.”

Mazda biggest launch next year will be the second-generation CX-5 mid-size SUV, which rolls into showrooms in the first half and is expected to continue the sales success of the outgoing model.

This year will mark the third straight year that the CX-5 has not only topped the mid-size SUV class, but also taken the crown as the best selling SUV in the country.

Aside from the CX-5, there are likely to be some mid- or late-cycle updates to key models, but Mazda is keeping quiet on which models.

This year will mark the fifth consecutive year that Mazda has exceeded 100,000 sales in Australia, with June the best sales month to date for the brand, while nine of the 11 months of 2016 were record monthly results.

When asked if he could see an end to Mazda’s sales “honeymoon period”, Mr Doak said the company was working hard in a number of key areas to remain strong, adding that quality products were also critical.

“We stick to our game plan and we try to be as consistent in the short, medium and long term as we possibly can. We are investing a lot in the brand, in that customer care area, and (customer) service and sometimes it maybe doesn’t get a sexy headline, but there is a lot of work going on in the background and all those things will stay strong,” he said.

 center imageLeft: Mazda Australia marketing director Alastair Doak.

“And product is crucial to that … We know it will continue that way. We know what is coming down the pipeline. We will be ok.”

Despite a 6.3 per cent drop in year-to-date sales, the Mazda3 is still the company’s top seller with 32,966, followed by the CX-5 that has dipped just 2.4 per cent in its final year to 22,658.

The Mazda6 (-17 per cent) and Mazda2 (-6.3 per cent) have both slipped in 2016 but the arrival of the all-new CX-9 earlier in the year has provided significant volume, capturing 4324 sales – a 39 per cent increase – after less than four months on sale.

Another model doing well for Mazda is the BT-50 pick-up, with sales of the 4x2 version up 3.8 per cent to 4692, while the 4x4 has increased by 8.4 per cent to 8726 units to the end of November. Mr Doak said 2016 would be the Mazda ute’s best sales year yet.

While its combined 4x2 and 4x4 sales are off the pace of the big hitters in the segment including the Toyota HiLux, mechanically related Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi Triton, Nissan Navara and Holden Colorado, the 4x2 is the third best seller in the segment behind the two-wheel-drive HiLux and Ranger.

Mr Doak said that while a renewed focus on small fleet business has helped the BT-50, the company would continue to pursue private buyers.

“It’s still driven by private sales essentially. Yes we have had some small fleet business success there. We have always had the program, it is just we have put more focus on it. What happens when you do that, you get more success.

“It has been good, but we are very much on a mission, and have a narrow window.

We are still not chasing big stuff, it is very much those people buying on to five (vehicles). We have had some good success with it. It is never going to be huge numbers. Private buyers are the focus for BT, and will continue to be.”

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