Akira Marumoto, Mazda’s executive VP for North America, said that the company will revamp its dealer network as it aims to increase U.S. sales by a third over the next two years. Automotive News reports that underperforming dealers will be culled and dealers in poor locations will be encouraged to open up new stores in more promising places. The company has identified 35 key metropolitan markets where it will focus its sales and marketing efforts. Mazda is highly dependent on North American sales with almost a third of its global sales taking place here.
Mazda currently has 637 franchised dealers in the United States. Marumoto, speaking at last month’s Tokyo auto show, wouldn’t say how many U.S. dealers the company thinks it needs, or how many dealers might be jettisoned or moved, but he did say that the company will be “aggressive” and that “Our initiatives are bearing fruit.” 2013 will likely be the fourth year in a row that Mazda had increased its U.S. sales.
Masamichi Kogai, Mazda’s new CEO set a goal to sell 400,000 units in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2016, up from a projected 300,000 units in the current fiscal year, which itself would be an increase of about 10% over the previous fiscal year that ended March 31, 2013. Through November, sales are up 5% over last year. 400,000 units would be a record for Mazda, whose previous best year was 1986, when it sold almost 380,000 cars and light trucks in the U.S. Marumoto said that most of the additional 100,000 U.S. sales will come from the CX-5 small crossover, which competes in a hot segment, and the newly redesigned Mazda3. Lower volume vehicles like the Miata MX-5 and Mazda’s larger CUV offering, the CX-9, are hoped to show incremental increases in sales with greater profit margins than the high volume vehicles. The introduction of a diesel engine is hoped to increase Mazda6 sales as well.
Marumoto said that the CX-9 and the Miata will soon be redesigned. “Toward the fiscal year ending March 2016, we will have a new CX-9, and those are the models where we are prioritizing for profit improvement,” he said. “The MX-5 Miata, because it’s a sports car, they sell quite well in the first three years.” The next Miata is being developed in conjunction with Fiat, which will sell the roadster as an Alfa Romeo.