David Heslop, managing director of Mazda Cars UK, said: 'We are already well on our way to achieving sustainable, profitable growth towards something in the order of 40,000 cars a year by the end of 1999.' This figure would see Mazda as one of the top 12 car companies in the UK by the millennium, with a 2% market share (it currently has around 1.5% of the UK market), overtaking the likes of Audi and Land Rover in the sales league table.
With the broad MX range of aspirational cars, backed by the new 121, popular 323, which currently accounts for 37% of Mazda's sales, and Xedos cars in the executive sector, the manufacturer can seriously target company car drivers, particularly in user-chooser fleets.
It is no surprise that much of this year's fleet success has been into hi-tech and media related industries where image counts, and Mazda intends to make much of its 'affordable exclusivity' tag. Overall fleet appeal should increase in 1997 with the launch of an all-new 626, which will be available in saloon, hatchback and estate versions. Next year will also see the launch of the MX-5 replacement, while the MX-3 and MX-6 are likely to be replaced by a coupe based on the floorpan of 1997's 626. Mazda is expected to replace the 323 in 1998 by a radically-designed car which abandons the marque's traditional curves. The company will switch to on-the-road pricing as of October.