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Old 04-10-2003, 10:00   #1 (permalink)
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Mazda to reduce U.S. inventories to 90 days or less

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Global Automotive Report

By Detroit News staff reports, Bloomberg News and wire services

TOKYO -- Mazda Motor Corp., one-third owned by Ford Motor Co., plans to reduce its inventories in the U.S. to 90 days or less as the company offers more competitive leasing prices, Mazda President Lewis Booth said Thursday.

"We've really struggled since the back end of last year; our sales have been disappointing," said Booth in an interview. "I want to be at 90 days or below, and sooner rather than later," he said, declining to be specific on the timing.

Mazda, Japan's fifth-largest automaker, has about 105 days worth of inventories in the U.S which are mainly Mazda6 sedans, Booth said. Sales of the model, released in late December 2002, stumbled initially because the company's leasing prices weren't as competitive as those of rivals such as Honda Motor Co.'s Accord sedan and Toyota Motor Corp.'s Camry, Booth said.

Mazda, which relies on North America for more than a third of its sales and has 1.4 percent of that market, is fighting to win new customers and compete against larger rivals with its first new model in the market in two years as larger U.S.-based rivals add incentives and demand falters. Mazda's sales in the world's largest auto market have dropped 4.7 percent since January.

"High inventory leads to higher incentives, so in order for Mazda to improve quality of sales, it needs to better control its inventory levels," said Kurt Sanger, an analyst at ING Securities Japan Ltd. "We would like to see Mazda closer to the industry average (of about 60 days) over the next quarter."

Mazda's incentives in the U.S. average about $2,000 a vehicle, compared with larger rival Honda, which said it budgeted for about $200 a car in the January to March quarter.
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