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Q&A: Mazda’s Jim O’Sullivan

The world, post-Clunkers.

by on Aug.21, 2009

The U.S. auto industry has never been more difficult to predict, says Mazda Motor America CEO Jim O'Sullivan.

The U.S. auto industry has never been more difficult to predict, says Mazda Motor America CEO Jim O'Sullivan.

Just a few months ago, U.S. dealers couldn’t get customers into their showrooms.  But in recent weeks, it seems, they could barely keep up with demand, thanks to the Cash-for-Clunkers program.  But now, with that cash, all $3 billion worth, running out, the program is winding down.  So, what happens next?  Will the momentum keep building, or will the American market once again fall flat on its face?

That’s just one of the questions we posed to Jim O’Sullivan, CEO of Mazda Motor of America during a preview of the Japanese maker’s 2010 line-up.  A 30-year Ford Motor Co. veteran, O’Sullivan was appointed to his current post six years ago, when Ford still held a controlling stake in Mazda.  Recently, the American maker sold off much of its holdings, but O’Sullivan chose to remain on the Mazda payroll.  He spoke with TheDetroitBureau.com’s Bureau Chief Paul A. Eisenstein at the Laguna Seca Raceway, in Monterey, California, that Mazda has sponsored for a number of years.

News You Can Use!

News You Can Use!

Q: It seems the Cash-for-Clunkers program has been a success – almost too much so.  How has it played out for Mazda?

Jim O’Sullivan: The program, from our perspective, has been very successful.  In fact, our share, based on what (the government) has posted, has been much higher than what our market share is, which tells you people are attracted to our products because of their fuel economy.

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April Auto Sales Showing Little Momentum

Recovery could take five years, forecasts J.D. Power.

by on Apr.23, 2009

Big incentives, extended warranties, nothing seems to be moving consumers back to showrooms, yet. But J.D. Power does predict steady growth over the next five years.

Big incentives, extended warranties, nothing seems to be moving consumers back to showrooms, yet. But J.D. Power does predict steady growth over the next five years.

The good news?  The new car market appears to have bottomed out, in March, according to a report by J.D. Power and Associates.  The bad news is that sales, during the first 16 days of April, were just holding pace with the dismal volumes of the first quarter.

If the trend holds for the rest of the month, we’ll be looking at a 33% decline, in April, says the California-based market research firm.  That translates into a seasonally-adjusted annual sales rate, or SAAR, of just 7.8 million vehicles, at the retail level – compared 7.7 and 7.9 million units, respectively, in February and March.

“Industry sales are starting to show signs of stability-albeit at levels near 30-year lows-as the retail sales SAAR has been at or near the 7.8 million-unit level for the past three months,” said Gary Dilts, senior vice president of global automotive operations at J.D. Power and Associates.

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