Mazda Motor Corporation has taken full control of Mazda Motors of New Zealand by purchasing the 44.1% formerly held by Sumitomo Corporation.

The move gives the Hiroshima-based car maker full control of its sales and distribution in the New Zealand market, where the majority of newly-imported cars are in fact used models, shipped mostly from Japan.

“This is a new milestone in our strategy of attaining full control over brand development and sales networks in key global markets,” said Mazda overseas sales division general manager Malcolm Gough.

“New Zealand is an important market for Mazda, where we have had five consecutive years of year-on-year sales growth since 2000.”

The brand has long been highly regarded in New Zealand, where about 75,000 new vehicles were sold last year, and its volume models were at one time assembled from CKD kits in a factory shared with the local Ford unit.

CKD assembly ended in the late 1990s after the government abolished import duty on fully-assembled vehicles and Mazda’s 6 sedan – imported from Japan – has been the top selling vehicle in the mid-sized segment for the past two years and has received seven ‘car of the year’ awards from local motoring writers.

The smaller 3 now accounts for over 20% of all Mazda vehicle sales in New Zealand. Sales rose 19.2% year on year in the first nine months of 2005 and market share was 5.9% at the end of September 2005. The company sold 5,375 new vehicles in 2004.

Mazda Motors of New Zealand Ltd. was established in June 1972 and is based in Manukau City, Auckland, with 23 employees.

Passenger vehicles on sale in New Zealand are the 2, 3, 6, RX-8, MX-5 and Tribute SUV. Commercial vehicles on offer are the Thai-built B-series pickup truck and the E-Series (Bongo) van line.

Graeme Roberts