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Mazda3 global sales recover
After a bumpy start in the US market, the Mazda3 range has hits its straps
10 Jun 2014
By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in JAPAN
NORTH AMERICAN Mazda3 sales have recovered after a slow start due to unusually fierce competitor pricing in its first few months of availability.
Launched late last year, the third-generation small car suffered as a result of aggressive marketing campaigns conducted by key rivals Toyota for its Corolla and Honda’s Civic.
With Mazda electing to sit out the price war, initial orders were lower than the company had expected.
However, according to Mazda Australia managing director Martin Benders, the Mazda3 has since recovered to the point where it is now exceeding initial sales forecasts.
Last month, the Japanese-built small car recorded its best May result in the United States since 2010, with 10,682 vehicles sold for a year-on-year increase of 19.6 per cent.
While this makes it the third consecutive month of gains for the Mazda3, year-to-date sales are still some four per cent behind last year - 43,324 versus 45,135 units.
“Mazda in the US decided not to play the discount game,” he said.
“But after a slower start than expected it is now where it needs to be.”
Although a comparative minnow like Mazda is unlikely to catch volume-selling competitors such as Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Ford, GM, Hyundai and Kia, hopes are high that the current-generation Mazda3 will be the most successful in the model’s 11-year history.
Meanwhile, Mazda UK PR director Graeme Fudge told GoAuto that the Mazda3 has “done bloody well” in Europe this year, following a strong debut in the United Kingdom.
This is despite the lack of the vital diesel variant that is deemed essential in many mainland European markets.
“In the UK, where the Mazda3 is in the retail market, it has done really well,” he said. “Diesel only accounts for about 25 per cent of volume in that class… and in the first month it ran at 140 per cent above forecasts.” Sweden, Portugal, Spain, Denmark, Ireland and Austria are other markets where the small car has delivered promising initial sales results, contributing to a circa-25 per cent rise in Mazda Motor Corporation volume across Europe.
In Australia, the car is the nation’s best-selling passenger car so far in year-to-date sales, with 18,465 units sold to the end of May compared with 17,518 Toyota Corollas in the same period.
However, with about 80 per cent of Mazda3 volume being the mid-range Maxx variant and above, the model mix has caught the company’s Australian arm out slightly.
“Our problem at the moment is readjusting the stock mix,” Mr Benders said. “We have too many of the base models.”
There are no plans to introduce discount pricing in the short term for the base Neo, however as the Mazda3 passes its mid-cycle facelift in 2016, the company could employ a more aggressive marketing approach as it has in past generations.
“The whole business plan is to grow sustainably,” Mr. Benders said.
“This has been the Australian model for the last 10 years anyway.”
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