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Mazda sales momentum set to roll on

Small package, big result: Models such as the CX-3 baby SUV are having a significant effect on Mazda’s Australian sales, while other models suffer.

Refreshed and growing line-up to power 2015 Mazda sales to 110,000 units

18 Aug 2015

MAZDA Australia is forecasting a strong second half of the year, with a comprehensive model portfolio, expanding dealer network and a focus on its core customer base to drive sales to a record 110,000 units by the year’s end.

While the Japanese car-maker has experienced slowing sales of key models such as the Mazda3 and Mazda6 – both down 10 per cent this year – overall the brand is up 10 per cent to the end of July, a trend that local executives believe will continue.

Mazda remains well behind market leader Toyota but sits comfortably in second place, with its growth rate this year way ahead of other leading brands which are struggling to keep pace with the overall market – up 3.2 per cent – or against their sales performance in 2014.

Toyota and Hyundai are both around the same mark as last year – up just 0.8 per cent and 1.1 per cent respectively – while Holden (-9.3 per cent), Ford (-16.3 per cent) and Nissan (-1.9 per cent) are all down. Mitsubishi (+8.8 per cent) is ahead of the game but still a long way south – some 25,000 units – of Mazda, which has racked up almost 66,000 new registrations in seven months of trading.

Speaking with GoAuto in Adelaide this week at the launch of the new Mazda2 sedan (details of which remain under embargo), Mazda Australia marketing director Alastair Doak said the strong sales performance would continue, but added that the company had no targets to be the number-one marque in any particular segment.

“We are on track for a number around 109,000 or 110,000 and we are pretty happy we will get there,” he said.

“We never go out to be number one in a segment. We have our own internal goals and numbers that we commit to every year and that’s what we try to do.

“If that means that we are number one in a segment or three or five it doesn’t really matter as long as we are doing a volume that we committed to.”

 center imageLeft: Mazda Australia marketing director Alastair Doak With a slight downturn in sales following the new Mazda3’s launch early last year and a similar dip in uptake for the mid-size Mazda6, Mr Doak explained that its key breadwinners were now the popular CX-5 SUV and its smaller CX-3 sibling, which has been an instant success since its launch in March.

“CX-3 has given a real shot across the board and dealers are happy,” he said. “When those guys are optimistic and pumped then you know you’ve got that precious market momentum.

“The update to Mazda6 and particularly CX-5 were good, solid updates so CX-5 has gone gangbusters. One of the main drivers for that though was CX-3 turning up.

“It’s sold out basically. We are always on the phone to Japan saying, ‘Can we have some more please?’ What that’s done is attracted new customers into our showrooms, which has given us an extra lift.” With the arrival of the new compact SUV, Mr Doak said it was drawing new faces into dealerships thanks in part to its sub-$20,000 starting price, but once customers were aware of the full range they often commit to a different model.

“When you see it in isolation you have no idea how big or small it is,” said Mr Doak. “So people go in and say, ‘I want one of those’ but they might decide it’ s a bit too small for them, and they walk out with a CX-5. So it has helped, not hindered, CX-5. It’s on record sales.” The most recent addition to the local line-up was the fourth-generation version of Mazda’s iconic MX-5 sportscar that lobbed earlier this month and Mr Doak said the company’s growth would continue, aided by more arrivals to the range.

“We have got more to come,” he said. “We’ve got this (Mazda2 sedan), MX-5 is here, we’ve improved the value equation of Mazda2, we’ve got BT-50 and CX-9 sooner rather than later. We can’t really ask for more.” While the company is exploring multiple avenues to maintain the recent growth, Mr Doak ruled out any possibility of Mazda pursuing large-scale fleet and rental business to bolster sales.

“No we’re not, absolutely not,” he said. “It’s a hard business and it’s not in our (business) model. Our model is primarily private buyers or small businesses which still act like a private buyer. They look at resale value and other elements rather than just pure price.

“That’s the kind of customers we target and it’s the heart and soul of Mazda Australia and we don’t want to deviate from that.” As previously reported, Mazda Australia has signalled its intention to pursue smaller fleet contracts, targeting small business and user-chooser operators.

A large part of Toyota’s business on local turf is driven by significant fleet contracts such as rental and government branches.

While Mr Doak believes the Australian market is changing, he said it is not solely because of the end of local production, which will see the closure of rivals Toyota, Ford and Holden’s manufacturing operations by the end of 2017.

“The market will change and you’ll have a lot more different types of vehicles close to number one,” he said. “That’s why we need to keep looking at what niches we can fill and the market will tell us where those ebbs and flows come. We are in charge of our own destiny,” he said.

“You have to be nimble and aware of the trend as it starts to emerge. I don’t think that has got anything to do with Ford, Holden and Toyota pulling out. It’ s just the way of the market – people want choice.

“There will be more and more choice and whatever becomes the top-selling car, I think there will be a lot more vehicles close to it. We’ve got small SUVs that weren’t there three or four years ago and they are on the rise.

“There will be some natural growth in the market. The forecast suggests that it will continue to grow at not a rapid rate but a steady growth over the coming years and we will pick up a share of that as it goes along.” As well as the blossoming line-up and ventures into new segments, Mazda is also increasing its local presence with up to six new dealerships opening by the end of 2016 – its first new outlets in more than 10 years.

“We are adding some new dealers in growth corridors and that’s something we haven’t done in a long time,” said Mr Doak. ‘We’ve had the same number of outlets since way back in 2001. The fact that we are adding some now is quite a significant move for us.

“There will be two opening their doors this year and the rest will be next year. All but one are really well known to us and have an existing relationship with us. We are very protective and proud of the Mazda culture. That’s one of the secrets to our success.” As reported by GoAuto, the new sites are believed to be mostly spread along the east coast from Brisbane to Victoria, with one each in Western Australia and South Australia.

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