Herald Sun - Motoring - - CARSGUIDE CONFIDENTIAL - Twit­ter @RTMBlack­burn

THINGS have been look­ing grim for Ford and Holden since they an­nounced the im­pend­ing clo­sure of their lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

But this week a glim­mer of hope comes from an un­ex­pected source in the form of Mazda man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Martin Ben­ders.

Ben­ders gave me­dia a sneak peek at Mazda’s in­ter­nal re­search that tracks “in­ten­tion to pur­chase” over the next four years. The mea­sure is a cru­cial one for the in­dus­try be­cause it is es­sen­tially a barom­e­ter of brand health.

The lo­cals have been in freefall on this score in the past decade, with Holden’s “in­ten­tion to pur­chase” drop­ping from just un­der 20 per cent to 7 per cent this year and Ford drop­ping from roughly 15 per cent to 6.5 per cent. But Ben­ders says the brands may have turned the cor­ner, as the fig­ures are up on last year. Both have closed the gap on Hyundai, which has slipped from more than 10 per cent to 8.4 per cent.

“They’ve ac­tu­ally sta­bilised a lit­tle bit so they’re prob­a­bly now at a level they’re com­fort­able with,” he says.

The next chal­lenge for the lo­cal brands will be to rein­vent them­selves as im­porters.

“Quite dra­matic changes have to hap­pen in the way they op­er­ate,” Ben­ders says.

The news isn’t all good for Ford and Holden, as Toy­ota sits at 16.2 per cent, Mazda at 13.5, Hyundai at 8.4 and Honda 6.7.

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