New Mazda3 will help the Japanese brand establish itself as a big fleet player, according to a senior executive.
Due on sale in January, the Mazda3 saloon and hatchback line-up will allow the Japanese brand to offer a more credible third model range to the corporate sector, claims sales director Peter Allibon.
"We will finally become a fleet manufacturer and I’m pleased about that because it promises to open the door to a valuable fresh business stream," he told Fleet News.
"Having a suite of vehicles on offer should enable us to get involved with the fleet operators who have not been interested in us before."
In an interview in Germany when the third-generation of the mid-size car had its media preview, Allibon said: "With excellent performance and 104g/km tailpipe emissions, the 2.2-litre turbodiesel saloon version of this model is a viable fleet proposition for us to market along with the Mazda6, which also records 104g/km and the CX-5 SUV, which records 119g/km.
"Our fleet dealers are reporting high interest and good order levels for the Mazda6 and I’m sure vehicles from our three ranges will be getting onto more choice lists next year, which I expect 35% of the 40,000 vehicles we aim to register to be taken by the fleet sector.
“That total will represent an improvement on our recent past, when we suffered from the effects of ageing products and bad exchange rates. But we are planning our business from a low base and will build on opportunities as we see them.
“We have no intention of buying registrations in order to grow – what I am keen on is building our end-user contract hire numbers. We have won some volume with the CX-5 and re-engaged with some corporate customers as a result."
Cost and specification levels have yet to be finalised for the Mazda3, but pricing is expected to range from £16,500 to £20,000, with the major fleet seller likely to be the 2.2-litre diesel SEL Nav with manual transmission at around £18,000.
Mazda Motor Europe president and CEO Jeff Guyton added: "Our aim is to drive Mazda upmarket, but not in terms of pricing. We want to raise the perceived value of the brand, which might translate into selling a richer mix of vehicles or offering less discount, rather than competing head-on with premium brands.
"Our research leads us to think that the features and interior of the Mazda3 might prompt some company car drivers to regard it as an attractive alternative to a C-sector model."