Just a few short years ago, a Mazda franchise was like having a licence to print money. The model range was second to none, as was the quality, they had brilliant customer satisfaction, residuals that were the envy of the industry and most importantly an image and desirability of product that turned other importers green. So, what went wrong with the model line-up and caused the negative reaction by most of the industry for the past couple of years?
Mazda started playing it safe, by introducing cars that were regarded by most, including dealers, as boring. They went from being innovative with design to being run of the mill, or worse. Remember the 323 with pop-up headlights, and how well it was received all those years ago? The 626 that was introduced in 1992 was a revolution, and well received by the public and fleet users alike. The fleet manager could put a Mazda on the fleet and would know it was a sure bet when it came to disposal time. But now they have temporarily lost their way, with dealers complaining and struggling to sell the current range of cars. They are also struggling to make profit, in what is a very competitive market. At one stage recently Mazda had become a one car franchise with the MX-5, and although this has always done well and continues to do so, there is a lot of competition now in the two seater sports car market.
When the current importer, Mazda Cars (UK) Ltd is taken over by Mazda Motors UK, it is hoped that they can once again get back on track and introduce some new cars that both fleets and private owners can once again be proud of, and be envied by other drivers.