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Too much of a good thing for Mazda

Mazda has become a victim of its own success, as supply falls short of demand

Mazda logo19 Jul 2006

WORLDWIDE demand for the Mazda3, and other Mazda products, is hampering Mazda Australia's sales goals.

Despite the market heading for another bumper year, Mazda Australia expects local sales this year of 67,000, for a 6.8 per cent market share, which should secure its No4 spot on the sales chart.

This compares to last year's share of 6.7 per cent, amounting to 66,520 sales.

Mazda Australia managing director, Doug Dickson, admitted that if it could get more cars here, the company would sell them.

"We have strong demand, particularly for the 3, but we are still constrained by production," he said.

However, he was not particularly fazed by supply issues as 2006 would still be a good year for the company.

"67,000 is probably our minimum we'd like to achieve," he said.

Part of the issue with a lack of supply has been the change-over to the new Tribute and just-facelifted Mazda3.

Mazda's ranks will be bolstered later this year with the arrival of the new MX5 hardtop convertible, Mazda6 diesel, BT50 utility and CX-7 SUV.

However, despite this added volume, Mr Dickson said the late arrival of many of the newer products would not lift volumes by any appreciable numbers.

"But next year will be a stronger year for us," he said.

The success of the Mazda3 has come on the back of its keen pricing, equipment levels and the fact that the small four-cylinder market has overtaken the large six-cylinder segment as the most popular segment.

Mr Dickson admitted that rising fuel prices had delivered a bonanza to Mazda Australia but he was aware that the medium-four segment was coming back a little.

22 center imageLeft: Mazda CX-7.

"The segment that's benefited most this year is the light segment," he said.

"The small segment is only ahead by about 4 per cent, and we're about 4 per cent down on the medium-four and the light segment has gone up by 20 per cent." Mr Dickson said the market some of the slight softening of the four cylinder segments was a result of buyers "clearly waiting for the new Commodore and Aurion".

So far this year the Mazda3 has been the volume seller, accounting for about 40 per cent of the 32,516 sales.

Australia represents about 10 per cent of the 300,000-odd Mazda3 global market, and is ahead of Japan.

Mr Dickson said the company expected incremental sales with the arrival of the MX-5 convertible and particularly the CX-7 SUV.

Despite a softening of SUV sales he did not believe this would affect the CX-7.

"Certainly the large SUV segment has softened but there are still good sales in the compact-light segment," he said.

The CX-7 will be powered by a 182kW/350Nm turbo-charged 2.3-litre four-cylinder mated to a six-speed automatic and computer-controlled all-wheel drive system delivering "good fuel economy", according to Mr Dickson.

Mazda has also unveiled a bigger seven-seater CX-9 version in the United States and Mr Dickson said if it was available in right-hand drive "we'd put our hands up".

"At the moment we've only got one entrant in the SUV segment, which is Tribute while all of our competitors have two, three, or even four," he said.

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