Mazda is planning to treble its market share in Europe. Despite its close ties with Ford, Mazda has so far failed to make any real impact in the European market. But plans are now in place to turn the company from an apparent single model manufacturer to an established alternative to the mainstream manufacturers. With an exciting new range, the Japanese carmaker stands a chance.

Mazda, Japan’s fifth-largest vehicle manufacturer is planning to treble its share of the European market to 3%. The ambitious target is set for 2010, but sales volumes are scheduled to increase by 76% from 2001 to 2004. New models are at the heart of the strategy.

Many consumers see Mazda as a single-model manufacturer – the MX5 created the budget sports-cabriolet more than ten years ago, and is still selling well after a facelift and the introduction of special editions.

Several models have gone largely unnoticed, with the limelight often stolen by Ford, with whom the products have been developed. Mazda’s 121 borrowed heavily from Ford’s Fiesta, while the MX6 was based on the Ford Probe coupe. Other models, such as the 323 and 626, have failed to challenge Ford, Volkswagen and Opel in Europe.

However, the company’s new saloon, the Mondeo-rivalling Mazda6, could change all that. Rave reviews and a badge on the bonnet that differentiates it slightly from the mainstream models should ensure its success. The Mazda2 again uses the Fiesta platform, and may struggle more than its larger brother, but should still help the volume increases Mazda are seeking.

More immediately, Mazda expects group sales to rise 7.4% in the year to March next year to around $19 billion, doubling profits. Its longer term outlook also looks bright.

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