Maz­daaims to be BigM

Ja­panese cars sales are tipped to grow even more, writes Paul Gover

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Onroad -

MAZDA could be Aus­tralia’s No.2 car brand by 2014 with an­nual sales of more than 100,000 ve­hi­cles.

Work has be­gun in a bid to boost sup­plies from Thai­land with a $400 mil­lion up­grade of the com­pany’s Au­toAl­liance joint-ven­ture fac­tory.

Thai­land has be­come the Aus­tralian source for the baby Mazda2.

Mazda Aus­tralia man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Doug Dick­son says the Mazda2, Mazda3 and CX-7 are the pow­er­house classes that will pro­pel Mazda from its cur­rent 80,000 an­nual Aus­tralian sales to 100,000 by 2014.

He sees a gen­eral an­nual im­prove­ment in lo­cal sales of 1.5 per cent a year, but a 3.5 per cent growth of Ja­panese ve­hi­cles.

Thai­land will build the nextgen­er­a­tion BT-50 pick-up, the first to­tal over­haul of the work­horse in 20 years, and it will be­come a key part of Mazda Aus­tralia’s show­room push.

Dick­son, speak­ing at a win­dow-on- the-fu­ture event in Europe, says the new BT-50 will ap­peal to a much greater au­di­ence and will in­tro­duce new driv­e­trains.

The BT-50, to be re­vealed at the Aus­tralian In­ter­na­tional Mo­tor Show in Syd­ney in Oc­to­ber as a Ford and a Mazda, is the cul­mi­na­tion of the T6 devel­op­ment pro­gram run at Ford Aus­tralia for the past four years. The ve­hi­cle is ex­pected to go on sale here late next year.

Mazda will pro­duce dual, sin­gle-cab and cab-chas­sis ver­sions of the new car-like BT-50. Ford is ex­pected to use the driv­e­line and chas­sis to pro­duce its Courier and Ranger.

Ford also plans a four-door wagon based on the T6 chas­sis, sim­i­lar to the Mit­subishi Tri­ton-based Chal­lenger.

How­ever, Dick­son says there are no plans for Mazda to fol­low the SUV move, though the com­pany may have a smaller wagon or SUV to slot un­der the CX-7 and re­place the Trib­ute.

This will be sev­eral years away and is likely to be the CX-5 and could be Mazda’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the Ford Kuga SUV, which is also ex­pected to be built in Thai­land from about 2012.

Ready to ex­pand: Mazda is gear­ing up for a boom in sales in the next few years as im­ports in­crease from Thai­land.

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