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New 2 heads Mazda sales boom

Hotcake: New Mazda2 has more than doubled sales so far in 2008.

Slower sales of most models fails to eliminate brand boom led by new Mazda2

Mazda logo12 Aug 2008

MAZDA Australia has revised upwards its 2008 sales forecast by 2.5 per cent, from 80,000 to 82,000 vehicles.

The news was announced last Wednesday (August 6) by managing director Doug Dickson, as the latest VFACTS figures showed that Mazda’s Australian sales, at 49,001 after seven months of this year, are 3433 vehicles or 7.5 per cent up on 2007 levels.

The new sales target represents a 5.5 per cent (or 4266-unit) increase over the 77,734 vehicles Mazda Australia sold last year and will make 2008 the ninth consecutive year of growth for the nation’s fourth best-selling automotive brand.

“I'm confident that we'll achieve our new 82,000 target, which means we'll also secure record market share for Mazda of 7.8 percent,” said Mr Dickson, who also forecast total 2008 industry sales of 1.05 million – around the same as the record 2007 tally of 1,049,982 vehicles.

“We're on a bit of a roll this year, largely because we offer the right vehicles for the times. Australians are attracted to Mazda's mix of fuel economy, value, practicality and driving spirit,” he said.

 center imageFrom top: Mazda RX-8, MX-5 and CX-7.The new sales target for Australia’s number one fully-imported vehicle marque follows record sales for its new Mazda2 light-car and a strong following for the brand’s BT-50 4x4 utility– and despite slower sales of all other models from Australia’s second-best-selling Japanese brand (after Toyota).

“We're seeing unprecedented demand for the economical and exciting Mazda2 range,” said Mr Dickson. “With 9248 sales to July, the Mazda2 is up 118 percent - exactly 5000 on the same period last year.”

While the BT-50 4x4 commercial is 1152 sales or 46.6 per cent up on 2007 figures, year-to-date sales of the recently facelifted RX-8 sports car are down 46.0 per cent, the MX-5 is down 41.7 per cent, the CX-7 compact SUV is down 35.8 per cent, sales of the recently realigned Mazda6 range are down 14.1 per cent, the BT-50 4x2 is down 11.9 per cent and even the volume-selling Mazda3 is down 1.9 per cent.

The latter remains Australia’s third-best-selling model in Australia, behind Toyota’s Corolla and Holden’s Commodore, as well as being the most popular among private buyers., with 20,297 sold this year and more than 140,000 sold since January 2004.

The CX-9 medium SUV has attracted 3051 sales since its launch in December 2007 – slightly down on Mazda’s original prediction of 400 sales per month.

Mazda Australia national marketing manager Alastair Doak said he was happy with the CX-9’s all-incremental sales performance alongside the CX-7, which has effectively replaced the Tribute since it was discontinued in March.

“We’re very happy with the CX-9. It’s a market we’ve not been in before, so every buyers is new to us. It might be down a tiny bit, but we’re happy with where the CX-9 is.”

He said sales of the revised RX-8, launched in early July, were restricted by limited supplies of the new flagship GT variant, and that an upturn in sales fortunes for the new Mazda6 was yet to emerge in the monthly sales results because price cuts of between $1750 and $3920 were announced in mid-July.

“We’re very happy with the response to the Mazda6 realignment, but it will take time. The medium segment has softened, especially in the private sector,” said Mr Doak.

Having recorded its 19th consecutive record sales month in July despite a softer overall new-vehicle market, Mr Dickson said business will nevertheless be tougher in the second half of 2008.

“Consumers collectively kept their hands out of their pockets in July,” he said. “The Markey easing in July is the first sign that high interest rates have impacted consumer confidence.

“June and July were down less than 0.5 per cent combined, so it’s not down much. Our view is there is more good news than bad – disposable income remains high and there’s not the cautiousness there is in the US.

“(But) the market, especially the private market, will soften in the second half,” said Mr Dickson.

Globally, the company is well on the way to reaching its four-year Mazda Advancement Plan (MAP), the mid-term business model it announced on March 30, 2007, which calls for a six per cent return on sales and 1.6 million sales by 2010, when Australia’s contribution (as Mazda’s fifth largest market) is expected to be more than 90,000 sales.

Mazda sold a record 1.36 million vehicles worldwide in 2007 (up from 1.3 million in 2006) and 358,000 vehicles in the first (April-June) quarter of its 2008 fiscal year - up 11 per cent year-on-year.

Mazda president Hisakazu Imaki declined to say whether he thought Mazda would achieve its MAP target earlier than forecast, due to increased raw materials costs and a desire to avoid complacency.

“I haven’t given any thought to achieving it in advance,” he told GoAuto. “Because of dramatic changes, we give thought only to meeting targets.

“In the first quarter we were up and have momentum, but if we dwell on its too much I feel it will breed complacency.

“The increase in raw materials costs is far more than expected. Japanese steel makers import most of their coal from Australia and they tell me the cost of coal has tripled. Australia is becoming more and more wealthy and this is a major obstacle,” he said.

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