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Tokyo show: SUVs key to Mazda growth

Crossing over: Mazda says SUVs will help increase the company’s overall volume, and the CX-3 is doing just that in Australia.

CX-3, Koeru and new-gen CX-9 to lift Mazda sales globally, and in Australia

Mazda logo2 Nov 2015

By TIM NICHOLSON in TOKYO

THE Mazda Motor Corporation (MMC) executive in charge of the Australian market says the car-maker can continue to grow its share Down Under through new product, including forthcoming SUV models.

MMC senior managing executive officer for Europe, Asia and Oceania and Middle East and Africa Yuji Nakamine did not mention internal sales targets, but said the Japanese car-maker could lift in Australia beyond its current volume levels.

“I don’t have any specific target numbers in terms of market share at this moment,” he told Australian journalists at the Tokyo motor show. “But my vision is to continue to grow the business – I don’t know how much – without jeopardising brand strengths. We want customers to feel very happy with buying and owning Mazda products.

“I am sure (Australia is) the best performing market in the world for sure.

Good dealer network, good local management team.”

Nakamine-san expressed his confidence in Mazda Australia’s management team, adding that they had employed profitable strategies that had maintained the company’s brand image.

“We have the pressure from other brands all the time,” he said. “We have to face it and grow our business, despite the pressure. At this moment we are very pleased because we introduced the CX-3 and this model helped to enhance our brand and also grow our business further.

“I think also I am very happy because we grew the volume without jeopardising our brand strengths and image. Not discounting, simply people buying for good reasons, product reasons.”

Nakamine-san said while the company’s performance in Australia was strong, there was still room to improve, particular in the large SUV and light commercial segments.

“We have a fairly high segment share for Mazda3 and 2, CX-3 and CX-5. I think CX-3 we can continue to grow volume there,” he said. “Maybe the CX-9 segment and BT-50 segment, that is where Mazda can potentially do a better job. So maybe the Mazda Australia team is working on that.”

Mazda has just launched a facelifted version of the BT-50 pick-up, while the next-generation CX-9 is set to arrive late in the first half of next year following its debut at the Los Angeles motor show this month, and will again be offered solely with a petrol powertrain, overlooking buyers that prefer diesels.

Mazda Australia managing director Martin Benders told GoAuto he thinks the second-gen CX-9 could improve on the sales of the current model, and highlighted the improvements to the big seven-seater.

“The new model is a Skyactiv model and delivers same sort of torque characteristics,” he said. “The quality of it has improved immensely and fuel economy will be much better, so it should be the right sort of car, I think.

“Packaging it is pretty close to what we have now, which is one of the better ones in the seven-seat segment.”

Nakamine-san said Mazda was “trying to take advantage” of the trend towards SUVs and crossovers and suggested that the production version of the Koeru Frankfurt show car could provide some volume.

“CX-3 is a good additional product for us. Maybe this one – Koeru – could be another additional product to capture the niche segment. also this would help improve the brand. We want to appeal Mazda brand rather than specific nameplate.”

Mr Benders said he was “uncertain” about whether the Koeru – essentially a higher-riding version of the Mazda3 small hatch – would be a niche offering in Australia, or if it could have an impact on sales.

“It is a car that everybody would like to have in the showroom, but we have to convince ourselves that it is an incremental sales business, not a substitutional sales business,” said Mr Benders. “The last thing we need is to add another model to range but we don’t sell any more cars.”

Mr Benders said the CX-3 has given the company incremental sales volume growth, and added that an increase in SUV models, including the Koeru, could prevent buyers from looking at other brands.

“With people moving into SUVs, you are not going to be able to stop that sort of buyer demand, so if the people are going to leave Mazda3 or Mazda6 and go somewhere, I would rather they stayed with Mazda with another offering,” he said.

“So it’s not pure incremental, it would be catching some of the leakage as well so it is a bit of both.”

Mazda is yet to announce that the Koeru will go into production, but, as GoAuto has reported, it is likely to surface next year in production form and carry the CX-4 nameplate.

It would be the fourth model in the CX-branded range and sit between the CX-3 and CX-5.

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