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Associated Press

TOKYO -- Japanese automaker Mazda Motor Corp. said its group sales rose 8.3 percent in the first nine months of its fiscal year, boosted by popular new models and strong sales in China.

Mazda, which is 33 percent owned by Ford Motor Co. of the United States, reported Thursday its group sales rose to 1.855 trillion yen ($17.5 billion) for the April-December period, up from 1.712 trillion yen a year ago.

Mazda sold 786,000 vehicles over that period, up 5 percent from the previous year.

The automaker did not give quarterly earnings numbers.

For the fiscal year ending March 31, Mazda reaffirmed its outlook for 2.5 trillion yen ($23.6 billion) in sales and a profit of 30 billion yen ($283 million).

The Atenza sedan, known abroad as Mazda 6, and the RX-8 sportscar were popular and helped boost sales in Europe, the Hiroshima-based automaker said in a statement. Mazda sales were down in North America but growing in China, it said.

“Overall sales continue to track in the right direction for Mazda,” Mazda chief executive Hisakazu Imaki said. “Looking at the current line of Mazda’s Zoom-Zoom products, I can only expect further growth around the world in 2004.”

For the 2003 calendar year, Mazda sold 1.068 million vehicles worldwide, up 14 percent from 2002, the company said
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