Mazda Motor Corp., Japan’s most export-dependent automaker, expects to beat its European sales target this year as a new sedan attracts customers amid a regional car-market revival.
Deliveries in Europe jumped 24 percent in the first five months of 2014, Jeff Guyton, head of Mazda’s operations in the region, said yesterday in a phone interview. That’s more than triple the 6.9 percent full-year growth rate that Hiroshima-based Mazda plans in the region, where it’s targeting sales of 170,000 vehicles.
Europe’s car market is expanding from a six-year contraction sparked by the global recession that culminated in a two-decade low in sales in 2013. The Japanese company’s deliveries jumped 18 percent in the region last year, in contrast to the market’s 1.8 percent decline, after a new version of the mid-size Mazda6 sedan went on sale in late 2012.
The European market will be “growing modestly this year, maybe around 3 percent,” Guyton said from Barcelona. “The industry has bottomed out and, hopefully from next year forward, we get a little bit more constant growth.”
Guyton said he wants the Mazda6, which competes with models such as Volkswagen AG’s Passat, to play a larger role in the company’s lineup, which in Europe is dominated by the CX-5 compact crossover and Mazda3 small car. Mazda also wants to look into new sets of customers as the market’s growth is likely to remain limited.
“We have additional opportunities particularly in company car fleets,” he said. “The level of technology and design and functional performance of the Mazda6 is there.”