Mazda bets on CX-5 to lead growth in Europe
Region boss Guyton also has high expections for new mid-sized sedan and wagon
FRANKFURT -- Mazda plans to grow in Europe as it bets on the success of the new CX-5 crossover and updated Mazda6 mid-sized sedan and wagon to help it defy a stagnant European market and increase deliveries at a time when most other volume brands are being hit by declining demand.
But the Japanese brand, whose European sales slipped 10 percent last year in an overall market that fell 8 percent, faces a number of challenges to becoming a serious player in the region including long delivery times for the CX-5 and Mazda6 models, both of which must the imported from Japan.
Mazda Europe CEO Jeff Guyton, 46, is the executive tasked with driving Mazda's sales push in the region. He recently told Automotive News Europe Correspondent David Jolley what the automaker is aiming to achieve in the market.
Last year, Mazda had a 1 percent share of the European market. Do you see this rising in the next few years and by how much?
It depends on the economy, but we see Mazda growing by about 15 percent in the coming [fiscal] year to 150,000 with the introduction of new products. In the mid-term, 200,000 units should be achievable for Mazda in Europe.
How important is the recently launched third-generation Mazda6 to your European expansion?
The new Mazda6 is the flagship of our brand. The Skyactiv technology on board provides class-leading fuel economy, driving dynamics and safety performance. And importantly, our technological advancements, like i-ELOOP [brake energy regeneration] for example, are consistent with Mazda's heritage of doing things differently to achieve great results -- like the MX-5 or winning Le Mans with a rotary engine.
What are your sales targets in Europe for the Mazda6?
We expect sales of the Mazda6 to double in the coming [fiscal] year, to about 40,000 units.
Jeff Guyton: ''European production isn't planned at this time, though we would never say never.''
How important is the CX-5 compact crossover, launched last year in March, to European expansion?
The CX-5 was our first entry into this growing segment. Additionally it was the first model in Europe that incorporates the full range of Skyactiv technology. Response globally has far exceeded our expectation, for example, winning car of the year in Japan and becoming the best-selling SUV in that country in 2012.
What are your sales targets in Europe for the CX-5?
Our teams have been busy expanding capacity for the CX-5, and we are aiming at 50,000 units in [fiscal] 2013. This would represent about a 5 percent share of the segment here.
It has been reported that there are six-month delivery times for the CX-5. Similar delays might also affect the Mazda6, which is also built in Japan. Are you worried that this might effect your European expansion?
As I mentioned, demand for the new models exceeded our expectations globally. To shorten delivery times we have already raised the production capacity for the CX-5 from 160,000 to 240,000 units. It is also fair to say that we have secured a sufficient allocation of Mazda6 so that our dealers across the region will be seeing good throughput, and customers should experience much more normal delivery conditions.
Would you consider European production of these and other models in the future?
European production isn't planned at this time, though we would never say never. Mazda is now building additional manufacturing capacity in Mexico, Russia and Thailand [transmissions], and these capacity actions, together with increased overseas component sourcing, are designed to both grow our overall capacity and also reduce the company's exposure to the Japanese yen.
What might lead to local production in Europe?
I would want any plant in Europe to have sufficient scale to operate efficiently. We are not there yet in terms of regional sales -- but we are working on it.
You can reach David Jolley at firstname.lastname@example.org.