However, from January 1, 2000 the quota restrictions will have ceased and Mazda is aiming for 40,000 sales and a 2% share of the UK new car market. Now under Ford's control, Mazda believes it is half way through developing a range of vehicles which has seen it shed its somewhat quirky image and become more mainstream while retaining a niche element to its portfolio.
The launch of the 626 followed recently by the launch of the new 323 has helped Mazda significantly increase its fleet penetration. But it has retained its niche sector appeal with vehicles such as the new MX-5, Demio mini MPV and the Xedos.
'We will increase our business to a 2% market share from January 1, 2000 because that is the level at which the Mazda brand can still remain exclusive and residual values will remain strong,' said sales and operations director David Brennan. A corporate sales team of 10 headed by Trevor Houghton-Berry is to be boosted by a further four or five staff and the first move has seen the appointment of Dennis Bennett, who has joined from Mitsubishi as dealer development manager to help dealers better exploit corporate sales opportunities.
This year Mazda will sell about 16,000 vehicles into the corporate sector of which 7,000 will be 323s, 4,000 626s with the balance being MX-5, 121, Xedos and light commercials. In the next 14 months Mazda's recent launch of the 323 and Demio will be supplemented with the launch of MPVs into the both the lower medium and upper medium sectors, a facelifted 121, additions to the 323 range, special editions in the MX-5 range and additional versions of the B-series pick-up.