After seeing its sales surge this year, Mazda is looking forward to another sold year of growth in 2014 by adding diesel power to its product line for the first time. The diesel-powered Mazda6 will join the maker’s lineup next spring, which is later than many observers had expected.
But James O’Sullivan, Mazda North America president and chief executive officer, explained the company elected to focus its marketing muscle on the Mazda3 first.
The marketing campaign for the Mazda3 will start in earnest with a wave of in-theater advertising during the Christmas holiday season. Television commercials will follow after that, O’Sullivan said.
“We don’t have a lot of extra money to spend on marketing unlike some of the people on the floor,” he said.
Consequently, Mazda decided is holding back the launch of the Mazda6 diesel until spring when there is less stress on the marketing budget, O’Sullivan said. “The SkyActiv technology has been bullet proof,” he added, putting to rest the speculation some kind of technical glitch may have sidelined the diesel program.
O’Sullivan noted five years ago in the aftermath of the “Lehman Shock,” which crippled global financial markets, Mazda’s senior management elected to invest in the business rather than pull back, even though its long-time ally had opted to reduce its stake in the company.
“If you remember, Mazda went out and got and raised $1 billion through an equity offering and they put the money right back in the business. That’s where the SkyActiv technology comes from,” O’Sullivan added.
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Mazda also invested in new plants, such as the new assembly facility in Mexico, which will open early next year. The new plant will supply Mazda3s for the North American market and free up space at a Mazda assembly plant in Japan to build more of the CX5, according to O’Sullivan.
Now with the SkyActiv technology in place and the fallout from the economic shock created by the fall of Lehman Brothers beginning to fade, Mazda is poised to grow. Mazda’s total sales in the U.S. should hit 300,000 units during the fiscal year, ending March 31, 2014.
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Mazda’s total sales in the U.S. are expected to grow another 25% by March 31, 2016. In addition, Mazda’s six-year-old foray into selling new vehicles in Mexico is continuing blossom, O’Sullivan said. Mazda’s sales in Mexico are expected to hit 60,000 units during the current fiscal year.
“It’s been a very good year for Mazda in the U.S.,” he said, adding he also expect the industry as a whole to do well during the next three years.