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Mazda global CEO hails “superb” Australian arm

Impressed: Mazda global president and CEO Masamichi Kogai says Australia sets an example for the rest of the world.

Strong dealer network the key to Mazda Australia success, says global CEO

28 Jan 2014

MAZDA’S global president and CEO Masamichi Kogai has made a flying visit to Australia, a market he told GoAuto was "an example to the rest of the world".

The Japanese brand is the number one full-line importer in Australia, and in 2013 was the third most popular overall with 103,144 units sold. This was a relatively substantial proportion of the company’s worldwide volume of 1.135 million units.

The Mazda3, a new version of which is launched this week, was Australia’s second top-selling car overall last year and number one in 2011 and 2012. The company also topped the light-passenger and medium SUV segments last year with the Mazda2 and CX-5 respectively.

This market position is mirrored nowhere else - something that has for some time puzzled industry experts and Mazda insiders alike.

Kogai-San, who visited this week for the launch of the new 3 and to speak with representatives from the dealer network, said that other markets could "take a leaf" from Mazda Australia's proverbial book.

“Many people in the company have told me what a superb brand Mazda has here, so I wanted to travel Down Under, meet the dealers and see things for myself,” he said at this week’s Mazda3 media launch.

It is one of Kogai-san’s first trips outside Hiroshima in his capacity as CEO since his appointment in May 2013. GoAuto understands he has also visited Mazda’ s new manufacturing plant in Mexico in this time.

“I think one of the factors is the strong relationship our distributor has been able to build with our dealers here,” he said.

“I think it's due to the relationship of trust, even due to the difficult times when we had the tsunami, Australia was able to continue.” As we reported in December last year, Mazda’s 127-strong network returned to the top of Australia’s dealer satisfaction ratings, as adjudged by JD Power, ahead of Toyota, Subaru and Honda.

Meantime Mazda Australia managing director Martin Benders said recently that while he projected the total Australian market to track relatively flat year in 2014, Mazda’s own fortunes would rise on the back of the new 3.

They will need to, if the company is to continue staving off a fast-charging Hyundai and maintain the title of Australia’s top importer.

In addition, Mazda Australia last week addressed one perceived chink in its armour: namely, the higher service and aftersales charges associated with brand compared to some mass-market rivals.

The introduction of capped-price servicing for the lifetime of the vehicle - most rivals offer terms of between three- and seven-years instead - and flexible service intervals beyond six-months for low-mileage drivers will, the company hopes, give its network a further weapon to lure buyers, and improve resale values.

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