Mazda model offensive slowly starting to pay off

Japanese brand goal in Europe: 300,000 annual car sales by 2006

Leverkusen. Mazda aims to be the third strongest Asian brand in Europe, behind Toyota and Nissan.

"We are already the strongest growing brand and will continue to strengthen this position," said Dan Morris, Mazda's new Europe president.

Mazda hopes to sell between 220,000 and 250,000 units in western Europe this year, a 65 percent increase on last year's sales of 182,000 units.

Morris wants to reach the 300,000 mark "by 2006 at the latest."

Mazda's model offensive is starting to pay off. During the past 18 months the Japanese manufacturer renewed two thirds of its model range.

The most important model is the Mazda6. The model is selling much better than expected and dealers are complaining about delivery times of up to three months.

Mazda originally planned annual sales of approximately 60,000 units in western Europe but now Morris expects 98,000 units will be sold in 2003.

There are also delivery bottlenecks for the new Mazda3.

"We should have ordered more cars from our parent company. Our warehouse stocks are already sold out," said Morris.

He hopes that 10,000 units of the compact car will be sold in 2003. The western Europe sales target for 2004 is 60,000 cars.

Morris, aged 47, was appointed Mazda's European head in May after his predecessor Stephen Odell became the carmaker's global marketing boss.

The Ford subsidiary is also making good progress in Germany: despite a weak market Mazda will probably be sell 73,000 units in 2003 - 8 percent more than in 2002.

"In 2004 we expect sales of between 75,000 and 76,000 units," said Klaus Tarlatt, president and managing director at Mazda Motors Germany.

Mazda has restructured its German sales network.

At the beginning of October an economic area concept was introduced in Germany. Sales at the 800 locations are coordinated and managed by 90 "economic area managers," who are owners of large trading companies.

"That way we create synergies in regard to the use of demonstration cars or joint advertising," said co-managing director Michael Bergmann.

The importer is still looking for new sales partners in 17 German cities.

Bergmann hopes that this process will soon be completed.

Dealers are offered a new margin system, which promises them a basic discount of 12 percent and a maximum margin of 20.9 percent.

The aim is to increase the dealers' average return on investment to approximately 3 percent by the end of 2004.

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