Mazda has named an experienced Ford executive for its top job in Europe. Norwegian-born Jan Brentebraten took over on 1 April from Shigeharu Hiraiwa as president of Mazda Europe.
Brentebraten is the first non-Japanese to lead Mazda Europe.
He was a lifelong Ford employee until heading up Mazda Germany several years ago.
In January Brentebraten was named executive vice president at Mazda Europe, in charge of the reorganization, as a transition to the top post.
Former President Hiraiwa returns to Mazda headquarters in Hiroshima to become responsible for worldwide marketing. He held the European position for four years.
Under Brentebraten, Mazda will become more European and closer to Ford, which controls Mazda and owns 33.4 percent of its shares.
'It is my responsibility to accelerate the sales growth by increasing awareness and appreciation of the Mazda brand, products and services throughout Europe,' said Brentebraten.
'Our key stated objectives in Europe are to achieve No. 1 customer satisfaction ranking, a 2 percent market share and an improved brand image by 2000,' said James Miller, president of Mazda Motor Corp. in Japan.
Miller, who is also a former Ford executive, said Mazda needed stronger organization within Europe.
'Jan has extensive European knowledge and experience which is vital if we are to fully understand the market and implement appropriate strategies to take the business forward at a rapid pace,' said Miller. 'He will recruit and build a management team of Europeans to help him do this.'
Mazda Europe is in the midst of transition. The company is moving from Belgium to Germany, and it is trying to do more work on a pan-European basis.
Brentebraten added that this year Mazda will use pan-European marketing strategies for the first time with new products: the replacement MX-5, Demio and more 626 derivatives.
Strategy will be managed by J. Walter Thompson offices in London and Frankfurt.