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Old 09-07-2004, 05:27   #1 (permalink)
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Japan:Mazda to pump up production of Mazda3 to meet demand in U.S., elsewhere

Mazda to pump up production of Mazda3 to meet demand in U.S., elsewhere

JAMES B. TREECE | Automotive News

HIROSHIMA, Japan -- Mazda Motor Corp. plans to build more Mazda3s to meet strong demand in the United States and elsewhere.

The Hofu No. 1 plant builds the Mazda3, known as the Axela in Japan, in sedan and hatchback styles.

"Axela production is not keeping up with orders," says Mazda President Hisakazu Imaki. "We're thinking of adding it to Hofu No. 2 and maybe Ujina No. 2 also."

Mazda3 U.S. sales are running well ahead of the Protege that it replaced. It is Mazda's fastest-selling car.

Mazda dealerships needed only 33 days to turn the Mazda3 in August, according to data from the Power Information Network.

That compares with an average 55 days to turn for all Mazda car models.

Days to turn are the average numbers of days a vehicle sits on dealership lots before it sells.

As a result, Mazda had only 12,390 Mazda3s, or a 50-day supply, as of Aug. 1, compared with a 75-day supply of all car models.

Demand is strong outside the United States. "It's everywhere," says Stephen Odell, Mazda's senior managing executive officer in charge of marketing, sales and customer service. "I've got markets where it hasn't even launched yet that are asking for more cars."

Mazda is assembling the Mazda3 at an annual pace of about 254,000.

But demand is running at an annual pace of more than 300,000.

Mazda said in May that it would raise output to as much as 320,000 through weekend and overtime work.

But even that increase, which will come from adding production at Hofu No. 2, may not be enough.

Ujina No. 2, next to headquarters in Hiroshima, reopened in May after being closed for more than two years.

It has a capacity of 236,000 vehicles annually and builds only the Demio subcompact, known in Europe as the Mazda2.
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