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Mazda aims for 40,000 annual new car sales by 2005

Mazda is aiming to turn around its ailing sales performance with a new range of models and engines that will see it achieve 40,000 registrations a year by 2005.

Mazda is also making renewed efforts to win fleet business, headed by fleet director Jeremy Thompson, formerly Ford car rental manager, based at Mazda's new Dartford headquarters.

The move follows the change of control in the UK from its former importer and distributor, MCL, to Mazda Motors UK, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mazda Motor Corporation from August 1.

A Mazda spokesman said UK sales would be low in 2001 - probably about 15,000 units - because of the change of franchise mid-year.

To the end of September this year, Mazda had registered 10,390 new cars.

Dealers have also suffered from the transition period, but in a meeting with new managing director James Muir in August, were told of the company's plans to cut prices and increase dealer profit margins.

With new models on the horizon competing in high-volume market sectors and renewed efforts in attracting fleet business, Mazda believes UK sales will reach 40,000 units a year by 2005.

The first new model will be the 626, due to be unveiled at this year's Tokyo Motor Show, with a name designation rather than a number, while the 323 will be replaced within two years.

Despite Ford's controlling 35% interest in Mazda, the 626 replacement will not share a platform with the Ford Mondeo, although there will be some shared components.

There will also be an estate aimed at premium upper-medium 'lifestyle' vehicles like the Audi A4 Avant and Alfa Romeo 156 Sportwagon. (October 16, 2001)

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