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by Tim Beissmann

Mazda Australia’s Steve Maciver spoke with CarAdvice about the first half of 2010 and looked ahead to the rest of the year…

The year so far

Mazda sales have risen 11.1 percent in 2010 to 42,871 vehicles, slightly below the industry average increase of 16.7 percent. The Hiroshima-based brand’s best first half-year on record means it maintains its position as Australia’s top-selling importer narrowly ahead of Hyundai. The Mazda3 has its nose 718 units ahead of the Toyota Corolla as the highest-selling small car after six months and trails only the Holden Commodore on the overall charts. CX-7 has been 2010’s biggest improver (up 160 percent year-to-date), while sales of the mid-sized Mazda6 and MX-5 and RX-8 sports cars all softened in the first half.

“The first six months have been really strong for us and I think the numbers speak for themselves,” Mr Maciver said. “Mazda3 continues to kick goals for us and we’re delighted with the way it’s performed.”

He said the introduction of the front-wheel drive naturally aspirated 2.5-litre Classic and the Diesel Sports to the CX-7 range in October last year accounted for a significant percentage of its growth. The Classic and Luxury Sports models accounted for 40 percent of CX-7 sales each, while the Classic Sports and Diesel Sports models had an even share of the remaining 20 percent.

Mr Maciver said slowing sales of the aging RX-8 were not a major concern for Mazda at this stage. “Sports cars might be one of the last to be picked up again in terms of market confidence, but overall the feedback that we’re getting from our customers is that they’re happy with what we’re offering. In terms of sales, they are down on last year but considering the overall economic mood, we’re still pretty happy with how RX-8’s performing.”

Model 2010 ytd sales 2009 ytd sales Change 2010 ytd

market share

2009 ytd

market share

BT-50 4×2 2118 2727 -22.3% 6.9% 8.2%
BT-50 4×4 2327 2357 -1.3% 4.8% 5.6%
CX-7 4831 1856 160.3% 8.8% 4.5%
CX-9 2247 2060 9.1% 4.8% 5.9%
MX-5 241 272 -11.4% 4.9% 5.7%
RX-8 138 254 -45.7% 2.8% 5.3%
Mazda2 6893 6464 6.6% 10.0% 11.2%
Mazda3 19,835 18,196 9.0% 16.5% 18.3%
Mazda6 4241 4417 -4.0% 13.9% 16.2%
Total 42,871 38,603 11.1% 8.1% 8.5%

Talking points

Compared with many, Mazda Australia has kept its nose relatively clean in the first half of 2010, with perhaps the biggest hiccup being a recall of 21,662 BT-50 utes over a bonnet striker that was at risk of wearing if the vehicles were driven continuously in severe conditions like rough roads.

Another ongoing frustration for Mazda customers is the lack of an automatic option for diesel-powered vehicles. In this case, it’s not a matter of Mazda Australia deciding not to bring them here, it’s simply that no diesel auto Mazda products are available to them. “It’s not that we wouldn’t want them. We would love to have, for example, a CX-7 diesel with an auto, but we just can’t get it. From a production point of view it hasn’t made sense up until now to produce them because there hasn’t been the demand in Europe. Once Europe has gotten on board we can get some of that production and that’s what will happen moving forward,” Mr Maciver said.

He confirmed the yet-to-be-finalised 2.2-litre SKY-D diesel engine would join the SKY-G direct-injection petrol engine in Australia, and would be teamed with the all-new SKY-Drive six-speed automatic transmission.

“We will be bringing the SKY-D to the Australian market which will come with SKY-Drive. It’s in the pipeline, it is coming, but we can’t confirm exactly when that’s going to be.”

Still to come in 2010

Mazda is remaining fairly cagey on the topic of future vehicles, but Mr Maciver gave a reasonable indication that the 2010 line-up is not completely finalised. “We’ve got a couple of things in the pipeline for the latter half of the year. At this stage there’s nothing I’m really able to confirm, but we do have a couple of things on the horizon for later on this year and into next year as well, so time will tell.

“Obviously one significant development for next year is going to be the introduction of the new SKY-G powertrain which is going to be our new generation direct petrol injection powertrain that’s going to be mated with a SKY-Drive automatic transmission. That will be making its debut in Australia sometime next year.”

Although Mazda is yet to announce the performance figures of the SKY-G/SKY-Drive combination, it says the 2.0-litre engine and six-speed auto will lead to 15 percent more torque and fuel economy gains of 20 percent. Based on the 2.0-litre automatic currently offered in the Mazda3, the SKY-G may produce as much as 210Nm of torque and use just 6.6 litres/100km.

In its ambition to cut company fuel consumption by 30 percent from 2008 to 2015, Mazda is also promising the implementation of lighter-weight chassis and engineering as well as its i-stop engine start/stop system, regenerative braking and other efficient technologies in future models.

Australian International Motor Show

“We will be there, absolutely. Obviously it’s the first major international motor show in Australia for a couple of years so we will be there. I’m not at liberty to divulge exactly what we’re going to have on the stand at this stage but there will certainly be Mazda product there that will be worth having a look at.”

Highlights/Successes

“We’ve pretty much done beyond what we would have hoped for in the first six months so we’re obviously very happy with that.”

Frustrations/Disappointments

“It’s fair to say we’ve had a couple of stock issues with the B-Series and that’s held us back a little bit there, but in terms of what we’ve actually done with that car in the circumstances we’ve had we’re fairly happy with it,” Mr Maciver said.

Check back tomorrow for CarAdvice’s Ford mid-year review 2010.




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