Mazda Motor on Thursday said it booked a US$33m loss for the fiscal third quarter to 31 December after government incentives ended and the strong yen.

The group net loss of JPY2.7bn reversed a net profit of JPY4.4bn a year ago, AFP noted.

"While demand for new cars was robust in the first half of the fiscal year, owing to the scheme of government subsidies on eco-cars, demand decreased significantly in the third quarter of the fiscal year due to a backlash from the expiration of the subsidy scheme. Also, the trend of a strong yen continued," the automaker said in a statement.

Mazda's loss defied the average forecast for a JPY1.76bn profit based on a survey of seven analysts by the Nikkei business daily.

Operating profit plunged to JPY1.1bn from JPY11.1bn a year earlier while sales remained nearly flat at JPY560bn.

Nine-month results were, however, written in black as an operating profit of JPY13.2bn was up JPY24.2bn on sales up 11% to JPY1,717.9bn and net profit of JPY2.8bn was up JPY19.2bn year on year.

Japanese retail volume rose 2% to 153,000 units while North America retails rose 13% to 257,000 units, mainly owing to increased sales of the CX-7 and CX-9. European sales fell 12% to 155,000 units but China increased 31% to 186,000 units. In other markets volume was up 23% to 206,000 units thanks mainly to Thailand and other ASEAN countries. Total global retail volume was up 11% to 957,000 units.

For the full year the company continued to forecast sales of JPY 2,300bn, operating income of JPY25bn and net income of JPY6 and global unit sales up 10.6% to 1,320,000 units.