PARIS -- Mazda will lift sales at home by about five percent this fiscal year as the hard-hit Japanese auto market starts to recover, a top executive said in an interview published on Tuesday.
Senior managing executive officer for Mazda global sales, Stephen Odell, told La Tribune newspaper he expected the Japanese market to fall 2-3 percent this year but to remain stable in 2004.
"Sales have plunged some 10-15 percent in the past few years, but we have touched bottom," he said. "The Japanese economy and car industry is recovering."
He said Mazda's own sales would likely rise five percent in the current fiscal year in its crucial home market, which accounts for a third of total sales.
Odell said he expected global unit sales at Japan's smallest carmaker to edge up 60,000 units to 1.06 million vehicles, and reiterated a 2003-04 forecast for 220,000 units in Europe and 300,000 units in two years.