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Mazda sticks to its guns with new Mazda6
Updated Mazda6 to grow sales slightly, with Mazda retaining 14-variant line-up
31 May 2018
MAZDA Australia executives say they are committed to the mid-size passenger car segment, despite declining sales.
The company expects a slight sales boost from its updated Mazda6 that arrives in showrooms this month with shuffled pricing and the same number of grades as before.
The heavily revised mid-sizer gains a new 2.5-litre turbo-petrol option, a completely new dash, an overhauled cabin, more standard kit.
Mazda Australia managing director Vinesh Bhindi told GoAuto at the Mazda6 media launch in Ballarat last week that both the car-maker’s Japanese parent company and the Australian arm were strongly committed to the segment.
“Our Mazda Australia view is, if it is available from Japan, if it complies with our ADRs (Australian Design Rules), we would bring it in,” he said. “The market may be small, but if a consumer says, ‘that is what I desire’, we are happy to offer one.”
When asked if there were any plans to follow other major manufacturers in paring back passenger car offerings and boosting SUV and pick-up model lines, Mr Bhindi said it was “not in the planning”.
“Our Hiroshima head office is engaging on all product lines for next generation, so what other brands do would be possibly unique to their headquarters’ plans, but ours is not,” he said.
“The passenger car hasn’t gone to a level where it is insignificant. Yes, there is a move, but that just demonstrates that consumers love choices. Therefore, the Mazda6 range had to be comprehensive.
“But if a customer desires an SUV, we have offerings in that range. A fourth one is about to join the portfolio (CX-8), but in the passenger car sedan and wagon, we have options.”
Last year a little more than 41,000 mainstream mid-size passenger cars found homes in Australia, with the bulk of them (57.5 per cent) filled by the then locally built Toyota Camry.
The Mazda6 retained its second placw in 2017 with 3647 units, followed by the Ford Mondeo on 2959.
Mazda says it expects the new Mazda6 to record 3700 sales in its first year on sale, representing a slight rise.
A decade ago, in 2007, Australians bought 75,200 mid-size passenger cars.
While the Camry made up 35 per cent of the segment, the Mazda6 was still second with a 16.5 per cent share.
While a number of Mazda’s rivals have consolidated their mid-size model grade offerings to reflect declining sales – the Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima are each available in just two grades – Mazda has maintained its 14-variant line-up for the Mazda6.
Mazda Australia marketing director Alastair Doak said the car-maker analysed the line-up ahead of the car’s arrival but determined that the numbers were appropriate.
“Obviously when you go into every new product line, you always stand back and go, ‘ok will we do something different’, he said.
“We analysed it, when you look at the grade mix there, it is quite evenly spread between the model grades. If you were in our position, would you go, ‘actually we can do without that one?’ You can’t, really.
“It is a reasonably straightforward line-up anyway, because there is only one transmission choice. It’s not overly complex, so we were quite happy to leave it as is.
“Historically there are a lot of people that want Mazda6 and even 626 before that. For those people, we want to satisfy them if they come back to repurchase as well and if you start reducing your range then you are limiting their choices.”
Mazda’s predictions for the new model in its first year on sale are split fairly evenly between the grades, with the Sport expected to make up 23 per cent of sales, the Touring on 35 per cent, 22 per cent for the GT and 20 per cent for the flagship Atenza.
Of the now three engine choices, Mazda expects 55.9 per cent of sales will be for the carry-over naturally aspirated 2.5-litre petrol engine, 39.8 per cent for the new 2.5-litre turbo petrol and just 4.3 per cent for the turbo diesel.
Despite the low take-up of the diesel, Mr Doak said Mazda did not consider dropping the oil burner for the update.
“There is still a core buyer group for diesel. We were bringing the diesel in for other models anyway. So it is not as if it is unique to this car in terms of servicing and parts supply and all of those things. So no we never considered dropping it, absolutely not.
“And who knows, fuel prices have gone back up. They are quite high at the moment and when that happens, diesel sales tend to bounce back. That and we think we have a class-leading diesel engine with 140kW and 420Nm.
“And if you look around there, it outshines everything else with those outputs and fuel economy – 5.3L/100km for this car. So there is a very compelling reason for diesel, and we believe in diesel and it will continue on.”
Despite previous Mazda Australia management pushing for more fleet sales for the first update of the Mazda6 back in late 2014, Mr Bhindi said the company was not actively pursuing that market.
“We don’t do any fleet program on the Mazda range. Now, that doesn’t stop a fleet customer purchasing a Mazda car, but as long as they are willing paying the same dollars that a mum and dad does.
“We are not fleet focused; that is not our focus. We will sell a Mazda car to any purchaser. We don’t run two pricing positions.”
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