JAPAN: Mazda running some production lines at 125% of capacity

By just-auto.com editorial team | 28 October 2003

Mazda production lines in Japan for the 6 [Atenza] and just-launched 3 are running at 125% of normal capacity to meet global demand - proof that the product-led revival promised two year ago is turning around the company's fortunes.

That promise at the 2001 Tokyo Motor Show was reinforced this year with the pledge that up to five more new models or derivatives will be launched in the next two years, said Hisakazu Imaki, president and chief executive officer of Mazda Motor Corporation in his motor show speech.

Stephen Odell, the former president of Mazda Europe who was promoted to director and senior managing executive officer in charge of marketing, sales and customer services six months ago, said: "We have to renew some of our models and there are gaps in our current product line-up."

Although not specific about which new models would continue the sales march, Odell confirmed the company would be looking at niche models while cars offering flexibility in use were important.

"Whatever we do going forwards in the future, it can be done in the Mazda way. For instance, does the next pick-up have to be of a similar design to all the pick-ups we see today?" he said.

The first of these new models will be unveiled at the North American motor show in January with another one due at the Geneva motor show in March. "Remember how Mazda treats its concept vehicles such as we have here at the show. They are not flights of fancy, they give us the architecture for future models," he said.

Underlining the problems Mazda faced just a few years ago Odell, part of the team Ford put in place during the restructuring process, said the company was down to selling just 140,000 vehicles a year in Europe in 2001 and only 13,000 in the UK.

This year it will sell 220,000 units in Europe, 38,000 in the UK and one million globally, growing to 1.2 million in a few years.

Outside Europe, Odell looks for Mazda to re-establish itself as a force again in North America, and China too is on his list of growing opportunities. This year Mazda will supply China with 70,000 6s in CKD kit form for local assembly compared with the 23,000 it supplied last year and its dealer network will double to 200.