Jeremy Thomson, Mazda Motors UK marketing director, says the RX-8’s pre-launch campaign created strong demand and put almost £2m of deposits in the company’s accounts, so he sees the roadster’s arrival offering a similar opportunity.
“There’s a huge following for the current MX-5, so we think the new model will be a huge draw for buyers, even before it arrives in showrooms,” he says.
Prior to that, in September, Mazda will launch the MPS – a 260bhp, turbocharged, four-wheel drive version of the Mazda6. Unlike Vauxhall’s VXR high performance range, which is only sold through a select few retailers, Mazda plans to give its entire network the opportunity to sell the MPS.
Thomson describes it as “the ultimate saloon from Mazda” and argues that it will not compete with the Subaru Impreza WRX and Mitsubishi Evo but instead will be pitched as “a very comfortable sports saloon”.
As well as attracting custom from BMW and Audi buyers, Thomson hopes MPS will bring repeat custom back to the network from current RX-8 drivers, although the sales target will only be 700-800 units.
The Mazda5 MPV, which dealers will receive in the second and third quarters prior to its September launch, will have a sales target of around 4,000 units.
Development of Mazda’s network will continue, with the objective of adding 25 retailers to the 175-strong chain by 2007. David McGonigle, Mazda fleet and remarketing director, hopes to add further dealers to the 10-strong fleet dealer group next summer. A manager of the fleet specialist dealer programme is due to be appointed this month to oversee the growth.
Scotland became Mazda’s top retail region in 2004, with the brand achieving a 2.5% share of the market, driven by strong sales from the Arnold Clark group. Mazda’s management has now charged its Scottish dealer network with opening more service points in remote areas.