NEW ORLEANS -- Mazda dealers expect extra production from the company's new plant in Mexico will help boost sales of the Mazda3 compact car about 20 percent.
Inventories of the Mazda3, the brand's top-selling nameplate, have been limited since the redesigned model was introduced last fall. Mazda3 U.S. sales declined 15 percent last year to 104,713 units, but dealers say Mazda's new plant in Salamanca, Mexico, should help boost sales.
"There won't be a product shortage on the 3. We're going to be in good shape because of that Mexico inventory," said Tom Carey, a Mazda dealer in Urbandale, Iowa, and chairman of the brand's national dealer council.
Production of the Mazda3 began this month in Mexico and will supplement Mazda3 production from Japan. The company has not said how many units the Mexico plant will produce in its initial ramp-up year. The Mazda2 will be added to the assembly lines this year.
Rob King, the brand's outgoing dealer council chairman with a Mazda dealership in Winston-Salem, N.C, says the extra output should boost sales about 20 percent, which would be more than 125,000 units. He says Mazda is also "tracking" to exceed 300,000 vehicle sales this year, which Mazda hasn't done since 1994 when sales exceeded 375,000 vehicles.
Mazda officials also reiterated their goal of boosting U.S. sales to more than 400,000 units by 2016.
"We're seeing significant growth," King said. "We feel very good about where we're going."