Fleet News

Corporate focus as Mazda introduces fresh models

MAZDA will be refocusing its efforts on the corporate sector next year with a new UK fleet department and the beginning of a new range of models and engines.

Headed by fleet director Jeremy Thompson, formerly Ford car rental manager, the new department will be based at Mazda's new Dartford headquarters.

The move follows the change of control in the UK from its former importer and distributor, MCL, to Mazda Motors UK, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mazda Motor Corporation from August 1.

A Mazda spokesman said UK sales would be low in 2001 - probably about 15,000 units - because of the change of franchise mid-year.

Dealers have also suffered from the transition period, but in a meeting with new managing director James Muir in August, were told of the company's plans to cut prices and increase dealer profit margins.

With new models on the horizon competing in high-volume market sectors and renewed efforts in attracting fleet business, Mazda believes UK sales will reach 40,000 units a year by 2005.

The first new model will be the 626, due to be unveiled at this year's Tokyo Motor Show, with a name designation rather than a number, while the 323 will be replaced within two years.

Despite Ford's controlling 35per cent interest in Mazda, the 626 replacement will not share a platform with the Ford Mondeo, although there will be some shared components.

There will also be an estate aimed at premium upper-medium 'lifestyle' vehicles like the Audi A4 Avant and Alfa Romeo 156 Sportwagon.

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