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Old 09-04-2003, 09:59   #1 (permalink)
Mr. Embargo
 
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JAPAN: Mazda expects to beat 2003 European sales target

Mazda Motor said on Thursday it expects to beat its sales targets in Europe this year, where it sees its market share growing with the launch of the new Mazda3 sedan, according to the Reuters news agency.

Mazda reportedly said that despite sluggish sales in Japan, a solid performance in the United States and the prospect of record sales in Australia were also standing it in good stead this year.

"We're in relatively good shape in the United States this year, and in Europe, I'm pretty sure we'll exceed our sales forecast," Stephen Odell, senior managing executive in charge of marketing and sales, told Reuters in an interview.

The news agency said Mazda targets sales of 280,000 units in North America, 290,000 in Japan and 220,000 in Europe for the current business year to March.

Reuters noted that Mazda is the most dependent of Japan's top five car makers on overseas sales, which make up two-thirds of group revenues.

According to the report, the company is banking on new models such as its Mazda6/Atenza and the Mazda3 line - a replacement for the Familia, which is known as the 323 in most overseas markets and due to be launched in Europe next month - to be the driving force this year for its best operating profit in 10 years.

"Mazda3 has to be a perfect car for the European market," Odell, architect of Mazda's successful "zoom-zoom" advertising campaign, told Reuters, adding that Mazda planned to sell 250,000 of the cars annually, aiming for 40% of those sales in North America, more than 20% in Europe and about 10% in Japan.

Odell also told Reuters he expected the Mazda3 to help the company boost its market share in Europe to 1.5% from 1.3% in the next few years.

According to Reuters, the company also has its eye on the rapidly growing Chinese market.

"We're starting from a very low base, but annually, our sales in China are in a doubling mode," Odell reportedly said.

He told Reuters Mazda sold 22,000 cars in the Chinese market in the last business year, and hopes to be selling at least 100,000 cars there annually within five years.

(Figures released on Thursday by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show that Mazda sales in the UK for the year to the end of August were up 45.7% to 22,750.)
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