TOKYO -- Masamichi Kogai, the new CEO of Mazda Motor Corp., expects the company to achieve record U.S. sales in the next two years, as the automaker bounds back from years of losses on the back of booming demand, new products and a lower cost structure.
U.S. sales should hit 400,000 units in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2016, Kogai said in an interview with Automotive News today. The redesigned Mazda3 small car, which went on sale this fall, will drive the surge.
Kogai also predicted that Mazda could lift its U.S. market share to as high as 2.5 percent in that period, compared with a market share of 1.9 percent through October this year.
The sales target would surpass the record result of 379,883 vehicles Mazda notched more than a quarter century ago in 1986. Mazda sold 277,046 vehicles in calendar year 2012, and sales were up 5 percent to 240,229 vehicles in the first 10 months of this year.
For the current fiscal year ending March 31, Mazda wants to sell 300,000 units.
"We've asked our U.S. dealers and distributors to pick up the challenge of hitting 400,000 units," Kogai said of the mid-term goal. "It will impacted considerably by the trend of the U.S. industry. But … it's my hope we achieve the record by that time."
Kogai, who took over as CEO in June, inherited a company that had just booked its first annual profit in five years and was in the middle of a business plan ending March 31, 2016.
Kogai, who previously was the company's manufacturing and purchasing chief, helped reorganize the company, pen the business plan and create its lower cost production base.
The U.S. outlook is rather stable, he said, with the exception of uncertainty surrounding the federal government's fiscal situation that could impact market sentiment.
"Over the next few years, the industry will be around 15 million to 16 million units," Kogai said. "And in that environment, the battle will be the competitiveness of the product and sales capability and how you can win share from your competition."
Mazda aims to maintain a minimum share of 2 percent, he said. The company wants to bolster transaction prices and fatten margins by holding the line on incentives and fleet sales.
"I think the upper limit may be 2.5 percent for the time being," Kogai said. "We don't want to use a lot of incentives. That is not the sales approach we aspire toward."