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by Daniel DeGasperi

Mazda Australia has set an annual sales target of 105,000 units in 2014, with the new-generation Mazda 2 and renewed incentives for the underperforming Mazda BT-50 and Mazda 6 to help drive the increase.

To July this year Mazda sales are down 1.4 per cent, with an average monthly sales figure of 8565 translating to a full year total of 102,785. However, according to Mazda Australia managing director Martin Benders the Japanese importer will need to average 9008 sales for the remaining five months of the year if it is to secure its target.

With the outgoing, seven-year-old Mazda 2 in run-out, the company says it is unable to secure the supply needed to keep its light car increasing in sales until the all-new generation arrives in November.

This will be offset by pushing the new model hard in the remaining months of the year, with a big advertising campaign expected following the success of the ‘all the best things in one place’ commercial that pushed along the outgoing model through the latter part of its lifecycle.

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Mazda models that aren’t performing so well will also get a push along, though in the case of the Mazda 6 medium car, which is down 25.5 per cent year-to-date, Benders points to fleet buyers holding up that segment and how Mazda Australia doesn’t sell to large fleet.

“It’s interesting to look at the make-up of that segment,” Benders said.

“Private buyers are leaving that [medium] segment in droves and going to SUVs. The only ones that are holding that segment up is business buyers. So we’re sort of looking at how we can maintain our presence there. We’re doing well, we’re still double the third place [Ford Mondeo] but we can do more to improve.”

Mazda Australia is not looking at reintroducing a sub-$30,000 Mazda 6 grade, however, as the company says the last time it did that with the previous-generation model it wasn’t a success.

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In the ute market, Benders explains that dealers have “had such a good time with passenger cars they’ve been a bit distracted”.

Mazda BT-50 4×4 is down 8.8 per cent to July, trailing the sales of its near-twin Ford Ranger in addition to several others in the segment.

“We think we’re leaving some business behind there, so we can get a bit more serious in that part of the market,” Benders adds.

“Utes, the new one with HiLux has come back but Ranger and Colorado have done pretty well. We’ve lost a bit of ground, mainly in the fleet area. We’re now embarking on a program to get our dealers to do a bit more small business fleet … and do a communication program with that to drive that [BT-50] a bit harder.”

Even with sales of 105,000 for the full year, however, Mazda Australia will unlikely topple hugely improved Holden as the second best-selling marque locally as it was recently primed to do, at least if Holden’s monthly sales rate of 9395 continues, which will leave that rival with 112,737 units by year’s end.




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