Mazda Motor Corporation said on Wednesday that hitting its target of an 8.4% rise in US sales this year hinged on market conditions, including sales incentives, remaining stable, according to a Reuters report.

The news agency said that, in the first six months, Mazda’s US sales were down 7.1% from the year before at 118,906 units, far less than half the 280,000 units targeted for calendar 2003.

“I think we’ll get close to (the target), so long as the market holds its nerve,” Mazda sales and marketing head Stephen Odell told Reuters.

“Unfortunately, there’s an awful lot of incentive money driving a lot of the volume at the moment,” he Odell reportedly said, adding that Mazda’s incentives were running below those of Detroit’s ‘Big Three’ but above those of its Japanese rivals.

Odell told Reuters that, thanks to word-of-mouth advertising, sales of the Mazda6 sedan, [Atenza in Japan] have been expanding since a lukewarm start in the US last December, exceeding 6,500 units last month compared with about 2,200 in the first month.

That, he reportedly added, helped Mazda’s US market share reach 1.7% in June, compared with an average 1.4% in the year to date.
Reuters noted that Mazda rival Toyota is top of the Japanese car makers with 11% of the US market in the year to date.

“If you look at sales (of the Mazda6), it has been substantial and progressive,” Odell told Reuters, adding that the award-winning car could become Mazda’s ‘bread-and-butter’ model in driving overall sales as the Accord has done for Honda.

Odell also told Reuters that sales in the US could pick up even more once Mazda adds two more body types – a wagon and five-door hatchback version – to the Mazda6 early next year, and as showroom traffic picks up with the launch of the much-hyped RX-8 sports car this summer.