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Mazda3 not in running for top sales spot: Mazda
Mazda leaves top-selling car stoush to Toyota, Hyundai with rental sector off limits
24 Jun 2016
By DANIEL GARDNER in CALIFORNIA
MAZDA Australia has admitted defeat in the battle for Australia’s favourite car this year, letting the Toyota Corolla and Hyundai i30 slug it out and vowing not to pursue rental and fleet sales with the Mazda3 in an attempt to reclaim its position at the top of the pack.
The Mazda3 has tussled with Corolla for years to claim bragging rights as the nation’s top-selling car, taking the title in 2011 and 2012 and routinely winning the battle on a monthly basis.
This year, however, Toyota and Hyundai have pulled slightly ahead – largely due to ultra-competitive deals in the marketplace and, GoAuto understands, an increase in fleet and rental sales – and Mazda expects the trend to continue.
To the end of May, Mazda has sold 15,976 Mazda3s – down 2.0 per cent on the same point last year – while Toyota has sold 16,117 Corollas (down 8.4 per cent) and Hyundai, which has been the standout performer, is out in front with 16,425 i30 sales, up 59.8 per cent over the corresponding period in 2015 and benefiting no end from its hard-to-beat entry-level deal of $19,990 driveaway with free auto.
Speaking at the launch of Mazda’s new G-Vectoring Control system in California this week, Mazda Australia managing director Martin Benders said the company would stick to its strategy of targeting private buyers.
“We’re not going to claim the number-one spot because the number-one spot is being won by two brands that do a lot of rental business and we don’t do that,” he said.
Despite running third behind Corolla and i30 last month, Mazda3’s 3243 sales marked a 12.8 per cent increase on the same month last year for a 19.6 per cent share of the small-car segment (under $40,000). Year to date, Mazda3’s share is 19.3 per cent, up from 18.9 per cent at the same point last year.
The sub-$40K small-car segment is currently running 3.7 per cent behind last year, against the overall new-vehicle market’s 3.8 per cent growth.
“The segment is down because there is a move from passenger cars to SUVs but we’re still doing quite respectable numbers, our share has actually gone up in the segment, so we are happy,” Mr Benders said.
The current-generation Mazda3 was introduced in early 2014 to a warm welcome and Mr Benders said a mid-life update due later this year would invigorate sales, with a facelift, refreshed interiors, chassis retune and the arrival of the company’s innovative G-Vectoring Control stability system.
“We think this will make it more competitive against the competition so we should be able to hold or build share and what the segment does, the segment does,” he said.
Mr Benders explained that with a more comprehensive model line-up the company was not as dependent on the sales of its small-car range, and the arrival of the CX-3 compact SUV and a broader range of Mazda2 hatchbacks and sedans offered more options.
“If we go back to the previous-model Mazda3, we launched that just before the GFC and we quickly got into driveway pricing and we built up share and we got to number one in the segment by being very price pointed and very aggressive on the pricing,” he said.
“When we finished that one we were $19,990 driveway, but we were only selling the base Mazda2, we had no CX-3 but now we’ve got a full line-up of Mazda2, full line-up of CX-3 so (with) Mazda3 we don’t have to fight that battle.”
When powered by the 2.0-litre SkyActiv naturally aspirated engine, Australian buyers favour the Maxx and Touring variants, Mr Benders said, which represents a customer preference swing away from the more affordable Neo variant.
“We’re still doing similar volumes but we are doing Maxx and above,” he said.
“We’re doing relatively better and if somebody can only afford $19,990 we can give them a base CX-3, so we’ve got more options there now and the dealers don’t have to force the Mazda3 down a bit like the i30 where they’re dropping their pants on the price.”
In 2.5-litre form, the mid-range GT is the top seller, while the most expensive but more heavily equipped diesel XD Astina attracts the least attention.
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