Mazda says that it will continue its market position above the non-premium brands and challenge the actual luxury brands on their entry models as market desire shifts further towards premium offerings.
Speaking to CarAdvice at the unveiling of the new CX-5, Mazda Australia boss Martin Benders dismissed suggestions of the Japanese company bringing back its Eunos luxury brand, instead reinforcing Mazda in continuing to focus on its current mid-way position.
“Our vision for Mazda is to sit above non-premiums and give the premiums a run for their money for their entry-level [models], that’s where I think we can live quite comfortably,” Benders said.
“I think there is a move generally in consumer land and not just in automotive, towards higher quality and higher brand strengths - and I think we are benefiting from that at the moment.”
Benders says that Mazda’s focus on offering more premium features in non-premium segments has allowed the brand image to grow beyond its main Japanese rivals.
“I think this generation of product has really enabled us to move that extra step and I think it has been recognised by customers. That’s why, because we are still competing in non-premium segments with a car that has that extra quality in terms of feel and look and everything else, I think that’s part of what’s driving the appeal of the brand and we certainly don’t want to walk away from that,” he said.
Mazda is already seeing luxury car owners coming into the brand with the launch of the new CX-9, which has attracted plenty of luxury vehicle trade ins.
"What you can’t grow overnight is that sort of brand halo, like what the Benz star and BMW propeller gets you, but that’s fine and we don’t see ourselves in that class at this stage. But we see that we are an alternative.”
He said despite the luxury brands moving downwards with the likes of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Audi A1/A3 and BMW 1 Series and X1, it actually makes better business sense for Mazda to move upscale than it does for the Germans to move down.
“One thing that has happened with this generation of product is that we have moved our average revenue across the whole portfolio up, whereas when you look at the premium brands with their A-Classes and cheaper models, their average revenue is coming down, so, we are going to meet at some point - but it will find its own level I think,” Benders said.