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New imports could help medium segment: Mazda

Welcome company: Mazda Australia will welcome the addition of the imported Toyota Camry and Holden Commodore, which it hopes will draw attention to the medium passenger segment.

Mazda not concerned that imported Camry and Commodore could hurt Mazda6 sales

Mazda logo15 Feb 2018

By ROBBIE WALLIS

THE arrival of the new imported Toyota Camry and Holden Commodore into the medium passenger car segment has not perturbed Mazda Australia, who believes it can actually have a positive impact on Mazda6 sales and the segment in general.

Speaking to GoAuto at the launch of the MX-5 RF Limited Edition, Mazda Australia marketing director Alastair Doak said the new imports could help bring customer attention back to the medium passenger segment.

“I think there are some really nice vehicles (in the medium segment) and I think if we get some new model activity, hopefully that will actually be a benefit for all of the models in there,” he said.

“Obviously Camry has moved from being focused on fleet into a full import and a different buyer structure I guess, and Commodore is going to be there, so I think it will actually be good for the segment if we get some focus on it again.”

In 2017, the medium passenger car segment saw a dip in sales of 19.7 per cent, with every single offering in the segment decreasing in sales over their respective 2016 figures.

Over that time, sales of the Mazda6 fell by 16.5 per cent from 4369 to 3647.

In the first month of 2018, year-on-year segment sales have continued to fall by 7.1 per cent, however the Mazda6 sold four more cars than in January 2017, finishing the month with 254 new registrations.

Mr Doak said Mazda was happy with how sales of the Mazda6 were travelling, but there is always room for growth.

“Mazda6 has been around for a long time, we have a very significant update coming in the back half of the year, so we’re comfortable with where Mazda6 is,” he said.

“I think there’s room for more sales for everybody in the medium segment, those cars still make a lot of sense, particularly things like the wagon, so we’ll welcome the additional focus and additional competition (within the segment).”

The refreshed Mazda6 was first shown at last year’s Los Angeles motor show in November, sporting a new 170kW/420Nm 2.5-litre turbo-petrol engine borrowed from the CX-9, improvements to ride and refinement, and updates to styling inside and out.

Next month the wagon version will make its public debut at the Geneva motor show, ahead of an arrival in Australian showrooms in the second half of the year.

Despite the fact that all Mazda passenger vehicles were down on sales in 2017, Mr Doak said he wasn’t worried about the future of the passenger car segment in the face of rising consumer appetite for SUVs.

“Yes, SUVs are more popular and they will continue to be, that’s the trend, that’s what we see in the next few years,” he said.

“I don’t think the passenger car segment will disappear any time soon. The small car segment where Mazda3, Corolla etc. are, that’s still the second-biggest segment and will probably stay that way for some time to come, so there’s still a lot of volume there.

“The light segment, yes it’s shrunk but there’s still some decent volume in those too, so I think it’s really about choice, and we plan to continue to offer as much choice as we can.”

He also acknowledged that Mazda will have to adjust its product portfolio as market trends demand.

“We’re fortunate we’re adding a fourth SUV (CX-8) to our line-up which is nice, we have the top-selling SUV in the country so we are pretty comfortable,” Mr Doak said.

“We’ll adjust as the consumer trends evolve, but we’re quite comfortable if it means more of that, less of that.

“We have the flexibility to do that. And all you need to do is make sure you’re on top of the changes so you don’t get left behind.

“We’re comfortable. Ultimately you want to satisfy customer, it’s their choice and we will try to satisfy that as well as we can.”

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