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Mazda singles out Australia as sales star

Sky’s the limit: Sales of SkyActiv models including the Mazda CX-5 have helped to boost the Japanese car maker’s sales in Australia.

Global car-maker Mazda looks Down Under to help it grow

30 Apr 2013

MAZDA Motor Corporation is learning what it can from its Australian subsidiary after singling it out as one of the most successful parts of the global car-maker’s network.

The Japanese auto giant last week reported its first profit in five years, and used its annual report for the financial year ending on March 31 to identify Australia as one of the few places that added substantially to the bottom line.

MMC has also forecast continued growth in the 2013-14 financial year, with profits projected to more than double “in all profit categories” with forecast net income of ¥70 billion ($689 million) on global sales of 1.335 million – up 8 per cent from the previous year and driven largely by a sales increase in its fuel-saving SkyActiv models.

For the 2012-13 financial year just completed, MMC announced it made ¥34.3 billion ($A339 million) from the sale of 1.23 million vehicles worldwide, compared with a ¥107.7 billion ($1.07 billion) loss in the previous year on slightly stronger sales.

However, while the results do not spell out exactly how much contribution Australia has made to Mazda’s turnaround despite flat or downward-spiralling sales in Europe and the US, it was noted in the results announcement.

“In other areas, retail volume increased by 13.5 per cent year-over-year to 300,000 units through high level of sales maintained in Australia and ASEAN countries,” the company’s annual report notes.

“In Australia where we have continued strong sales trend, we marked record high sales of 104,000 units and share of 9.3 per cent in 2012, and Mazda3 (called Mazda Axela in Japan) was the best-selling model two years in a row.” Mazda Australia public relations manager Steve Maciver told GoAuto that Australia was one of the most successful mature markets for MMC, so the company was “always interested in what we do here”.

“Occasionally people from Mazda will come over here to see what we do in terms of customer services and the dealerships to see what they can learn from us and take back,” he said.

Mr Maciver said Mazda Australia’s importance to the company’s global operations was also highlighted by its involvement in new-product development, despite being such a small market.

“With product planning, we’re working very closely with Mazda in Japan and we’re involved in new product developments at a very early phase of the product’s development – about two years from its market launch,” he said.

“We’re invited to give input as future products are being designed, and we also give feedback into research and development.

“When future product plans come across to us, we’re asked to give our open and honest opinion about them, and we do.” Mr Maciver said the turnaround of Mazda globally was due in part to new fuel-saving technology that is slowly spreading across the car-maker’s model line-ups.

“Part of it is the overall customer acceptance of SkyActiv technology, which also helps us get around the challenges of the (high Australian dollar) exchange rate because people really want it,” he said.

“The other part of it is the depreciation of the (Japanese) yen,” Mr Maciver said. “That has helped, but it is not something that has happened overnight.” Sales for the region that includes Australia and Association of Southeast Asian Nations countries jumped 13.1 per cent for Mazda, earning a healthy ¥10.1 billion ($A99.5 million) for the company.

Mazda increased sales by 5.2 per cent in Japan, largely on a big jump in sales of its CX-5 soft-roader and Mazda6 mid-size passenger car. It helped peg a ¥18.4 billion loss for the home market.

However, North American sales remained fairly flat for the company, resulting in a ¥40 billion markdown, while sales in Europe fell by 6.2 per cent over the same period, but still earned 5.6 billion yen.

Sales in China were hardest hit, falling 21.5 per cent largely due to a wave of anti-Japanese sentiment flowing from a territorial dispute over small group of islands nestling between the two countries.

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