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Mazda 3 brings new business car credibility

Date: 02 December 2013   |   Author: Rachel Burgess

The arrival of the new 3, joining the existing CX-5 and 6, means Mazda is now a credible player in the fleet market, according to UK managing director Jeremy Thomson.

"Now we have the CX-5, 6 and 3, there's a broad spread of product to appeal to fleet managers and the majority of fleet drivers," he said.

"We need to get in front of as many corporate buyers and user choosers as possible," he added.

 Thomson recognised that the new 3, which goes on sale in January, enters a very competitive sector, but believes the latest version can rival the likes of the Ford Focus and VW Golf.

 However, from a fleet perspective, the lowest-emitting 150hp 2.2-litre model emits 104g/km of CO2, versus 85g/km for the Golf Bluemotion. Nonetheless, Thomson insisted the model is still in the top quartile for CO2 figures in the segment and added that the firm would continue to enhance the car over its life cycle.

The 3 is being sold in hatchback and saloon iterations, the latter named Fastback and expected to account for between 12-15% of model sales. Thomson acknowledged that the Fastback will appeal in "a niche way" and added that it has "potential to eat into some of the premium four-doors, offering a much more focused package".

Meanwhile, the CX-5 is resonating strongly with fleets, with large corporate dealers overwhelmed by interest in the SUV, according to Thomson.

"The CX-5 appeals to user chooser fleets, and people that have done a lot of research. It meets their fleet needs as well as their personal desires," he said.

"Critically, it has some stand-out [appeal]. We have found that fleets see Mazda as a discerning choice; a lot of people are looking for something that is a bit more stand out."

Thomson wants to increase fleet sales significantly over the next few years, with the sector currently accounting for 25% of the sales mix, or just under 9000 units this year. He is also keen to re-establish former relationships with companies that have dwindled: "It is a hearts and mind campaign to show what we have to offer. We don't expect people to come knocking on our door. A priority is looking at past relationships as well as starting to find conquest fleets."

He concluded: "We also need to make sure dealers are promoting cars locally. The local dealer has a tremendous opportunity to foster relationships that they've never had before with these cars."